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Chinese premier to be conferred Pakistan's highest honour

Islamabad, May 21 (IANS) :

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, who is paying a two-day official visit to Pakistan from Wednesday, will be conferred Nishan-e-Pakistan - the country's highest honour.

The visit, taking place immediately after the elections in Pakistan, "will provide an opportunity to Premier Li to meet the new political leadership in Pakistan. The visit would also provide further impetus to Pakistan-China strategic cooperation. Friendly ties and friendship with China is the cornerstone of Pakistan's foreign policy", said a statement from the Pakistani ministry of foreign affairs.

Li, who lands here Wednesday morning after his India visit, will be accompanied by a high powered delegation which includes Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng, and National Development Reform Commission chairman Xu Shaoshi, high ranking officials and leaders of corporate sector.

Li will meet President Asif Ali Zardari who will host a lunch for him at the Presidency and also hold talks with him and caretaker prime minister Justice (retd) Mir Hazar Khan Khoso.  A joint press statement is to be issued.

"The prime minister will host a banquet for the Chinese premier in the evening. The Chinese premier will also be conferred upon the highest award of Nishan-e-Pakistan," the statement said.

Premier Li will hold a joint meeting with the Senate chairman and the National Assembly speaker and also address the Senate of Pakistan. Leaders of political parties will also meet the Chinese premier, the statement said.

On May 23, Pakistan Muslim League-N president and prime minister-designate Mohammad Nawaz Sharif is to call on him.

Li will also visit the Pakistan-China Friendship Centre along-with Khoso and "meet with Pakistani friends who have played a role in promoting Pakistan-China relations". He will also plant a tree at Shakarparian, the statement said.

Pakistan and China are "all weather" friends. Pakistan-China bilateral trade stands at $12 billion and both are committed to achieve a trade target of $15 billion in the next two-three years, said the statement.

"Several major energy and infrastructure development projects are being executed in Pakistan with Chinese assistance. More than 120 Chinese companies are engaged in economic activity in Pakistan and Chinese investment reached the figure of $2 billion by 2012," it said.


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