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Chinese PM begins Pakistan visit

- May 22, 2013 - Updated 015 PKT - From Web Edition

ISLAMABAD: Chinese Premier Li Keqiang arrives in Pakistan Wednesday for a two-day visit where he will meet prime minister-elect Nawaz Sharif as the long-time allies look to boost trade ties.


Trade between China and Pakistan hit a 12-month figure of $12 billion for the first time last year, according to Islamabad, up 18 percent on the previous year, and the two sides are committed to raising this to $15 billion in the next two to three years.


Li, on his first overseas tour as premier, will hold talks with President Asif Ali Zardari and Pakistan's caretaker prime minister on Wednesday before meeting Sharif on Thursday.


Pakistan's former ambassador to the United States Tariq Fatemi said the visit was crucial in drawing up the economic roadmap for the incoming government.


"Normally foreign visitors don't go to countries during the interim setups, but China has recognised that the visit to Pakistan is necessary even at this stage and that is why they have organised a separate one-on-one meeting with Nawaz Sharif," Fatemi told AFP.


After Pakistan, Li's tour takes him to Europe, where he will visit Switzerland, with which China is negotiating a free trade agreement, and Germany, its largest European trading partner.

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