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China, Pakistan Discuss Afghanistan, Regional Issues

The leaders of China and Pakistan have pledged their support for Afghanistan's interim government, which takes power Saturday. Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf is on a state visit.

Afghanistan dominated discussions Friday here in Beijing, where Chinese President Jiang Zemin is hosting his Pakistani counterpart.

Mr. Jiang pledged $3.5 million in aid for the new Afghan government. He joined with Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf to express support for the Afghan people and the interim Afghan leadership, on the eve of its swearing in ceremony in Kabul.

Foreign Ministry official Sun Guoxiang says that Mr. Jiang and General Musharraf are satisfied with the post-Taleban government agreed to in Bonn, Germany. Mr. Sun told reporters that China will consider participating in Afghanistan's post-war reconstruction.

Tensions between India and Pakistan also came up in the talks.

Mr. Sun, deputy head of the Foreign Ministry's Asia department, says Mr. Jiang told President Musharraf that China wants to see relations improve between the South Asian nuclear rivals, which would contribute to the stability of the whole region.

The two countries have a long standing violent dispute over the region of Kashmir. Tensions were further exacerbated when India blamed Pakistani nationals for a deadly attack on Parliament last week. China, Pakistan's traditional ally, has not taken sides and is urging restraint.

Mr. Sun says the two leaders did not discuss military cooperation in their initial meeting Thursday. But he says China and Pakistan's friendly relationship normally includes military trade and cooperation. China supplies Pakistan with military hardware, as well as economic aid.

Mr. Musharraf is visiting China for the first time since the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States. He aims to shore up ties with Beijing, which is concerned about Pakistan's growing relationship with the United States and Islamabad's cooperation in the U.S.-led fight against terrorism in Afghanistan.

He leaves Beijing Saturday to visit the midwestern city, Xian, the southern city Guangzhou, and China's giant Three Gorges Dam.