Pakistan PM Starts China Trip with US Ties Tested

With the recent killing of Osama bin Laden by U.S. special forces fresh on their minds, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani will meet in Beijing with President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao this week. From AFP:

Gilani’s four-day visit comes in the wake of the US operation to kill the terrorist mastermind on Pakistani soil, which has raised questions over the stability of US-Pakistan relations.

Gilani will speak at a cultural forum in the eastern city of Suzhou on Tuesday before travelling a day later to Beijing, where he will meet with President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao.

China is the main arms supplier to Pakistan, which sees Beijing as an important counter-balance to Pakistan’s traditional rival India. India has recently tightened its ties with the United States, causing worry in Islamabad.

US special forces killed bin Laden at a compound near the country’s top military academy on May 2, sparking speculation that Islamabad may have known about his whereabouts, as well as criticism over the impunity of the raid.

China has shown unswerving support for Pakistan since the episode, and Gilani is expected to seek a reaffirmation of Islamabad’s “all-weather” friendship with Beijing.

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