China and Pakistan on Saturday inked various infrastructure agreements, including on setting up ports and for further developing Gwadar port, ahead of the One Belt, One Road (OBOR) forum that begins on Sunday, media reported. The signing ceremony was witnessed by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. The first MoU is related to cooperation within the framework of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st century Maritime Silk Road initiative, Radio Pakistan reported.
An MoU was also signed on upgradation of the main railway line track ML-I and establishment of Havelian Dry Port. Three agreements related to economic and technical cooperation worth 3.4 billion Yuan for Gwadar port and East Bay expressway. Federal Ministers, Advisor on Foreign Affairs and Chief Ministers of all four provinces were also present on the occasion.
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Sharif also reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment for completion of early harvest projects under CPEC. Sharif on Saturday also held meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping and assured that Islamabad will fully support Beijing’s OBOR initiative, Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) reported. The meeting focused on intra-regional trade and connectivity as a crucial factor for sustainable development of Asia and beyond, it added.
The Pakistan side conveyed that China’s strategic policies in the region were for peace and prosperity. Sharif voiced gratitude for China’s support for the launch of the $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and said: “The CPEC presents a great opportunity for strengthening regional economy.” The two sides discussed progress on CPEC – an important part of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s One Belt, One Road vision.
Sharif in his statement also congratulated Premier Li Keqiang on hosting the OBOR forum. Chief ministers of Punjab, Khyber Paktunkhwa, Balochistan and Sindh were also present in the meetings. The composition of his delegation to China, particularly the presence of four Chief Ministers, is testimony to the broad-based Pakistan-China friendship, Sharif was quoted as saying.
“Sharif told the Chinese President that presence of all Chief Minister in the meetings reflects national harmony that prevails in Pakistan with regard to the country’s relationship with China,” the news agency quoted sources as saying. Sharif said China was Pakistan’s “strategic partner” which has always stood by the country.