Pakistan's Zardari seeks to allay Chinese concerns on terrorism
URUMQI, China |
URUMQI, China (Reuters) - Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari has promised to work closely with China in the fight against terrorism, state media said, nearly a month after Chinese officials blamed an attack in the troubled far-western region on militants trained in Pakistan.
Zardari made the comments during a meeting on Tuesday with Zhang Chunxian, the Communist Party chief of the restive region of Xinjiang, at the start of a trade expo in the capital, Urumqi.
His visit comes after officials in Kashgar, a city in south Xinjiang, said a stabbing attack in late July was orchestrated by members of the separatist "East Turkestan Islamic Movement" who trained in Pakistan before returning to China.
Xinjiang, a region torn by ethnic violence, borders Pakistan, and some members of the ethnic Uighur community opposed to Beijing's rule have sought refuge there.
Zardari said that Islamabad opposes any terrorist activities, Xinhua said in a report on Wednesday.
Pakistan and China are long-time allies, and in recent months Islamabad has leaned closer to China as its ties with the United States have deteriorated.
Yet China has its own concerns over Pakistan's stability as it struggles to fight Islamist militant groups operating from its soil.
In 2009, Zardari endorsed China's policies in Xinjiang, after Muslim Uighurs rioted against Han Chinese residents in Urumqi, killing at least 197 people, mostly Han.
Ahead of the expo, China has tightened security in Urumqi, deploying SWAT teams and increasing checks on flights bound for the region, state media said.
(Additional reporting by Sui-Lee Wee; Editing by Ken Wills and Sanjeev Miglani)
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