Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao begins Pakistan visit

Image caption,
Mr Wen (left) will sign deals worth billions of dollars

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has arrived in Pakistan at the start of a three-day visit to boost trade and investment.

Mr Wen began his trip with talks with Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani. Business deals worth billions of dollars are expected to be signed.

The Chinese premier arrived in Pakistan after talks in India, Pakistan's rival.

Correspondents say Mr Wen will seek to reassure his hosts in Islamabad that they remain important allies, despite China's improving ties with India.

Following years of mistrust, China is now India's largest trading partner, with bilateral trade expected to touch $60bn (£38bn) during this fiscal year. The two countries agreed on Thursday to lift that figure to $100bn (£64bn) by 2015.

China has been an ally of Pakistan's for years. It has provided it with military hardware and is also helping the country build nuclear reactors.

It invests much more in Pakistan than it does in India.

The BBC's Aleem Maqbool in Islamabad says Pakistan has relied to date mainly on offering up its strategic geo-political location should China need it.

However, our correspondent says there is now some recognition that Pakistan needs to offer China more in return for the support it gives Islamabad.

One key attraction could be the trade route for Chinese goods that is being developed with Chinese assistance from Kashmir to the deep-water, strategic Pakistani port of Gwadar on the Arabian Sea.

But for the Chinese to use that, our correspondent says, they will want to see the development of better infrastructure and more security in Pakistan.

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