Islamabad: Chinese Premier Li Keqiang was accorded a red carpet welcome as he arrived Islamabad on Wednesday on a two-day maiden visit.

President Asif Ali Zardari and caretaker Prime Minister Mir Hazar Khan Khoso received the Chinese Premier on arrival at a military airbase near Islamabad.

Li Keqiang was presented a 19-gun salute and a guard of honour at the Islamabad Noor Khan Base, where all three services chiefs, high level civil, military officials, diplomats and ministers were present.

Li Keqiang is accompanied by a high powered delegation which includes Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Gao Hucheng, Minister for Commerce and Xu Shaoshi, Chairman of National Development Reform Commission, high ranking officials and leaders of corporate sector.

The Chinese Premier will meet President Zardari, who will host a luncheon for him at the Presidency later on Wednesday. Keqiang will also hold talks with the caretaker Prime Minister after which there will be a joint press stakeout. The Prime Minister will host a banquet for Keqiang in the evening.

Li Keqiang will be presented Pakistan's highest civilian award 'Nishan-e-Pakistan'. The Chinese Premier will also hold a joint meeting with the Chairman Senate and Speaker National Assembly and also address the Senate of Pakistan. Leaders of the political parties will also meet the visiting dignitary, the Foreign Ministry said.

Prime Minister-designate Nawaz Sharif will call on him on Thursday.

Many important Agreements and MoUs in the fields of economy, Science and Technology, Space & Upper Atmosphere communication and energy would be signed during the visit, the Foreign Ministry said.

The Chinese Premier had on Tuesday lauded Pakistan, saying, "When it comes to Pakistan, the first word that comes to the mind of the Chinese is ‘iron brother’.”

Keqiang will also visit the Pakistan-China friendship Centre and meet with Pakistani friends who have played a role in promoting Pakistan-China relations. He will also plant a tree at Islamabad's scenic spot Shakarparian.

Economic cooperation between Pakistan and China has expanded significantly in recent years. The bilateral trade between Pakistan and China in 2012 crossed the figure of USD 12 billion for the first time. Both sides are committed to achieve a trade target of USD 15 billion in the next two-three years.

Several major energy and infrastructure development projects are being executed in Pakistan with Chinese assistance. More than 120 Chinese companies are engaged in boosting economic activities in Pakistan.


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