BEIJING  - Pakistan’s Ambassador to China, Masood Khan has said that the momentum between China and Pakistan relations is very strong.

During an interview with China’s biggest web portal, china.org.cn, the Ambassador said both the countries need to maintain this momentum and work harder to take their relationship to new heights.

He said economic cooperation, cultural exchanges and particularly the relations between the people of the two countries should be enhanced.

He said in the past few years, the two sides have maintained vigorous high-level political dialogue.

He said the newly elected Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, will visit China later this month to attend the World Economic Forum New Champions meeting taking place in Tianjin. But this visit is also very important because he will be able to meet the Chinese leadership and further strengthen bilateral ties, he added. Ambassador said that towards China there is continuity in Pakistan’s foreign policy.

The new Prime Minister will build on the strong foundation we have, to consolidate what we have already achieved and to help move this relationship to new heights, he added.

China became Pakistan’s largest trading partner in 2011, he said. Pakistan is currently China’s second largest trade partner in South Asia. Both the countries have set a goal for US$15 billion in bilateral trade by 2015, he added.

He said that both sides are working to fully utilise their free trade agreements on goods, investment and services they signed between 2006 and 2009.

“We have requested the Chinese government and private sector to help us strengthen our capacity in processing and manufacturing, textiles, leather products, garments, and also in the light engineering sector,” he added.

The Ambassador said that Karakoram Highway is being upgraded and plans are being considered to explore a rail link between Khunjerab and Havelian and to establish a fiber link. Asked about the recent strain in the Pakistan-US relations following attack on a Pakistani border post by US/NATO troops, he said our bilateral relations are back on track ,adding, that engagement is now taking place at all levels.

He maintained that Pakistan and the US have had a long history of close relations, despite ups and downs.

“It is important that Pakistan’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence are respected. Best inter-State relations are based on the principles of mutual respect, mutual trust and mutual benefit,” he said.

Turning to Afghanistan, he said that Pakistan supports Afghanistan’s efforts to create conditions of peace, stability and prosperity.

He said Pakistan has been contributing to the economic reconstruction of Afghanistan.

He said the war against terrorism has caused devastation in Afghanistan and in the bordering Pak territory. International community’s help in the reconstruction of these areas is very important, he said.

China is already playing a very constructive role by investing in Afghanistan and Pakistan, he added.

He said that Pakistan, Afghanistan, and other countries, particularly Afghanistan’s neighbours, should work together to fight terrorism.