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China Urges Pakistan to Resolve Military Standoff With India

Pakistan's president stops in Beijing for talks with the Chinese premier before attending a summit of South Asian nations in Nepal. China continues to urge Pakistan to resolve its military standoff with India.

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf meets with Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji in Beijing Thursday evening. He is traveling through China on his way to Nepal to avoid flying through Indian airspace.

A spokesman for Pakistan's embassy in Beijing says Mr. Zhu will host a banquet for Mr. Musharraf following their discussion.

Observers say the escalating tensions between India and Pakistan are likely to dominate the talks.

Zhu Feng, a security expert from Beijing University, says the Chinese government is extremely concerned about the military standoff between New Delhi and Islamabad, and continues to urge both sides to exercise restraint.

Relations between the nuclear-armed rivals have worsened sharply since a December 13 suicide attack on the Indian parliament, which killed 14 people. India blames Pakistani militants for the attacks and has demanded that Islamabad crack down on suspected terrorist groups. Since then, both nations have recalled half their diplomats and cut off bus, train and air services between their countries.

China and Pakistan have a decades-long alliance, which traditionally formed a counterbalance to India. Both China and Pakistan have fought wars with India in the past, and Beijing is a key arms supplier to Islamabad. Mr. Musharraf just paid a state visit to China less than two weeks ago.

But Mr. Zhu says if war broke out between India and Pakistan, China would be placed in an awkward situation, because it would not know which country to support. He says that China has steadily improved its ties with New Delhi in recent years, and wishes to see peace and stability in South Asia. The Chinese premier will pay a state visit to India in coming weeks.

General Musharraf leaves Beijing Friday morning for Kathmandu, Nepal, to attend the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation meeting.