China, Pakistan to formalise 10 billion dollar deals

ISLAMABAD, December 18, 2010 (AFP) – China and Pakistan are set to conclude another 10 billion dollars’ worth of deals on Saturday, the latest signings on a trade focused trip to South Asia for Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao. Business leaders are scheduled to formalise deals at Islamabad’s five-star Marriott Hotel, where a devastating suicide truck bomb killed 60 people in 2008, adding to the 20 billion dollar deals inked on Friday.

Boosting trade and investment have been the main focus of what has been the first visit in five years by a Chinese premier to the nuclear-armed Muslim nation on the front line of the US-led war on Al-Qaeda.

Pakistan regards China as its closest ally and the deals are seen locally as incredibly important to a moribund economy, which was dealt a massive blow by catastrophic flooding this year and suffers from sluggish foreign investment.

Pakistani Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira said the countries signed 13 agreements and memorandums of understanding on Friday in fields ranging from energy to railways, from reconstruction to agriculture and culture.

Kaira said China had promised to fund “all the energy projects of Pakistan,” which he termed a “major breakthrough”. Pak