Pakistan and China sign economic deals in quest for cultural exchange

PAKISTAN and China signed economic deals worth billions yesterday, the second day of a rare visit by Chinese premier Wen Jiabao to this impoverished, conflict-ridden nation.

The two nations also stressed the importance of cultural exchange by inaugurating a new centre dedicated to what Islamabad calls their "all-weather" friendship.

China is Pakistan's closest friend in Asia, giving military aid and technical assistance, including nuclear technology. Most Pakistanis view China as an ally which, unlike Washington, doesn't make demands for its assistance

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Pakistan provides raw materials to fuel China's economic growth. But Wen's visit is the first by a Chinese premiere in five years.