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Investment Deals Expected As China's Xi Visits Pakistan

Chinese President Xi Jinping will hold talks with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, along with the heads of the Pakistani armed forces, and address parliament.

Chinese President Xi Jinping travels to Pakistan next week for a visit that could produce billions of dollars worth of deals.

Xi, accompanied by a large business delegation, will be in Pakistan on April 20-21 for a visit postponed last year amid antigovernment demonstrations in Islamabad.

Pakistan's Foreign Ministry said the visit will "further consolidate the existing 'all-weather relations' between Pakistan and China, in all areas of importance, especially political, economic and strategic."

The ministry said Xi will hold talks with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, along with the heads of the Pakistani armed forces, and address parliament.

An unidentified Pakistani Finance Ministry official was quoted as saying the sides would sign $46 billion worth of agreements, focusing on infrastructure and the energy sector.

The official said they were expected to sign an agreement on the Pakistan-China Economic Corridor, a network of roads and railways linking western China to the Pakistani port of Gwadar.

Pakistan has for decades been China's close ally in South Asia, and Beijing is a major trading partner and key supplier of military technology to Islamabad.

Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Liu Jianchao said on April 17 that Pakistan needed a "huge amount of financing" for projects in the transport, infrastructure, and energy fields that are part of the Economic Corridor initiative.

"China stands ready to provide financial support for Pakistan to be used on these projects," Liu said.

But he declined to offer details, saying the "specific figure" would be announced during the visit.

He said the trip will "map out an overall plan for China-Pakistan relations and cooperation...for the next five to 10 years."

The Economic Corridor would shorten the route for China's energy imports by bypassing the Straits of Malacca between Malaysia and Indonesia.

Pakistan borders the far-western Chinese region of Xinjiang, where a series of clashes and attacks -- some blamed on Muslim separatists -- left more than 200 dead last year.

Beijing has sought Pakistan's help in combating anti-Chinese separatists reportedly holed-up in a lawless tribal belt on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, home to a mix of militant groups.

With reporting by AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa, and
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