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Musharraf Expresses Regret Over Killing of Chinese Engineers


Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf has expressed his country's regret for the killing last week of three Chinese engineers, allegedly by Pakistani insurgents. The Pakistani leader spoke at the start of a five-day visit to China.

Calling Pakistan an "old friend," Chinese officials welcomed President Pervez Musharraf for talks Monday on extending the two countries' already strong economic and strategic ties.

The Pakistani leader began his official visit by telling Chinese parliament leader Wu Bangguo that Pakistan regrets the killing last week of the Chinese engineers.

"I would first of all express the nation's regret and condolences on this sad incident of the killing of the three Chinese. It's a shame for the country," he said.

Mr. Musharraf met later in the day with President Hu Jintao, telling him the attack on February 15 was by those who do not want to see increasing cooperation between Pakistan and China.

A group calling itself the Baluchistan Liberation Army claimed responsibility for the attack. Mr. Musharraf told President Hu that Pakistan was determined to hunt the killers down.

Monday's agenda included the signing of agreements dealing with energy, telecommunications, defense, and family planning.

Also under discussion are the two countries' joint efforts against terrorism.

Beijing has repeatedly sought to assure Islamabad that China's growing ties with Pakistan's rival, India, are no cause for concern.

Beijing has also sought to bolster those assurances with talk of a possible free trade agreement. Trade between China and Pakistan grew from $3 billion to $4 billion between 2004 and 2005.

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