Islamabad: China's on Friday assured Pakistan of its continued support and cooperation in economic and defence issues amid severe strain in US-Pak ties following a NATO air strike that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.

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State Councillor Dai Bingguo, China's top foreign policy official arrived here on Friday for a visit that Chinese officials said was aimed at taking the "all-weather" relationship between the two countries to "a new high".
   
During a meeting with Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar this evening, Dai "assured Pakistan of continued support and cooperation in economic, strategic, defence and other spheres", said a statement from the Foreign Office.
   
Khar conveyed her appreciation for "China’s support for Pakistan's sovereignty and territorial integrity" after the NATO air strike on Pakistani military border posts on November 26, the statement said.
   
Dai briefed Khar on China's position on various regional and global issues.
   
The two leaders discussed important bilateral and regional issues, the international security situation and matters of mutual interest.
   
Khar told the Chinese diplomat that Pakistan "fully understood the imperative of peace and stability in the region and looked forward to contributing, as effectively as possible, towards this end".
   
Both leaders expressed satisfaction at the celebration of Pakistan-China Friendship year 2011 and resolved to "keep strengthening future bilateral cooperation".
   
Dai will meet President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani. Ahead of his arrival in Islamabad, China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Liu Weimin said Dai's visit was aimed at taking bilateral relations "to a new high".
   
The visit has assumed significance in the wake of the NATO attack on two Pakistani border posts.
     
Pakistan responded to the attack by closing all NATO supply routes and forcing the US to vacate Shamsi airbase reportedly used by CIA-operated drones.
   
The Pakistan Army on Thursday rejected the report of a US investigation into the attack that acknowledged lapses on the part of American and NATO troops.
   
Dai's visit comes at a time when Gilani openly spoke of conspiracy to oust the elected government saying that it was "unacceptable" if the Army "considers itself a state within state" and warned that conspiracies were being hatched to "pack up" his government.
   
China wields considerable influence over Pakistan military by virtue of its longstanding strategic relations.

Agencies