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Pakistan Envoy Downplays PM's China Comments

Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani addresses the Parliament in Islamabad, Pakistan, May 9, 2011 (file photo)

Pakistan's ambassador to China says Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani's warm words about his country's relationship with Beijing are not indicative of a shift away from the U.S.

Ambassador Masood Khan tells VOA that Islamabad believes good relations with both the U.S. and China are needed to eliminate terrorism and extremism.

Gilani told China's official Xinhua news agency that China is his country's "best and most trusted friend." Gilani also praised China for supporting Islamabad following the U.S. raid that killed terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden.

The Pakistani prime minister spoke ahead of a four-day visit to China to mark the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Relations between Pakistan and the U.S. have been tense since the raid in Pakistani territory early this month. And South Asia political analysts said the timing provides Pakistan with an opportunity to demonstrate it has other powerful friends besides the United States.

Gilani is scheduled to address the first conference of the World Cultural Forum in Suzhou Wednesday before traveling to Beijing later in the day for meetings with President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao.

Pakistani officials said his talks would deal with a range of common interests as well as regional and international issues. He is also scheduled to meet with leading bankers and entrepreneurs.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.