Staunchly behind Pakistan: China

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By: K J M Varma
Beijing: Brushing aside criticism against Pakistan following the killing of Osama bin Laden, China Tuesday said it “unswervingly” backed Islamabad’s counter-terrorism efforts and asked US to strengthen anti-terror cooperation with its ally by providing more aid.
“Pakistan has made very important contribution to international counter-terrorism cooperation as well as great sacrifices,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Jiang Yu said, as Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, began a key visit to the country, declaring China as his country’s best friend.
 Dismissing criticism against Pakistan in the aftermath of the killing of bin Laden, Jiang said, “China will unswervingly continue to support Pakistan’sefforts to counter terrorism. We believe that fending off and countering threat of terrorism is common challenge facing international community.”
 “The international community should join hands together and jointly tackle the challenge. We hope the relevant countries will continue to strengthen cooperation with Pakistan in this regard and provide further assistance,” she said, without making a direct reference to US. “Indeed Pakistan is the victim of terrorism,” Jiang said.
 Her comments came ahead of Gilani’s four day visit beginning from today during which he is scheduled to hold talks with Chinese President Hu Jintao and Prime Minister Wen Jiabao on a host of issues including pressure being exerted by Washington to crackdown hard on Taliban and other militant groups.
 Giliani’s visit is taking place in the immediate aftermath of the visit of US Senator John Kerry during which he reportedly delivered a message to Pakistani leadership to crackdown on Taliban leaders and conveyed the prevailing negative mood in Washington over continuing massive anti terror aid to Pakistan.
 In her replies, Jiang did not reveal whether China would step in and provide any assistance to Pakistan on its own during Gilani’s visit but said Beijing would look to “further consolidating and developing friendship and cooperation” as it is common aspiration of people of both the countries.
 “We are willing to work together along with Pakistani side to create a bright future for that relationship,” she said.
US ENVOY TO TRAVEL TO PAKISTAN
 Meanwhile, US special envoy Marc Grossman and a senior CIA official will travel to Pakistan this week to ease tensions in bilateral ties in the wake of the Osama operation and prepare the groundwork for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s planned visit that is yet to be scheduled.
 Clinton was scheduled to come to Pakistan by the end of May for the next round of the bilateral Strategic Dialogue but US officials have now made it clear that the visit would be linked to progress in discussions by Grossman and CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell.
 The Secretary of State told Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani during a telephone conversation yesterday that Grossman and Morell would soon visit Pakistan.
 “This interaction would help develop better understanding,”Clinton was quoted as saying in a statement issued by the premier’s office.

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