Pakistan, China pledge greater nuclear cooperation

The Chinese and Pakistani presidents vowed to advance defense, nuclear and economic cooperation and ratified a landmark free trade deal aiming to quadruple bilateral trade to US$15 million (€11.5 billion) within five years. Chinese leader Hu Jintao also promised Friday to help nuclear-armed Pakistan and India resolve long-running friction over the disputed Himalayan Kashmir region, the cause of two of three wars between the countries since their 1947 independence from Britain. Hu's South Asian tour, which included a stop in India, aims at expanding regional economic and energy links for the world's most populous nation. In impoverished Pakistan, where he arrived Thursday, Hu has been feted by Musharraf's government, which awarded him this country's highest national honor and described ties between both states as "time-tested" and "unswerving." Beijing's relations with Pakistan were "higher than the Himalayas, deeper than the Indian Ocean and sweeter than honey," Hu said in a nationally televised speech. His visit here is the first by a Chinese leader in a decade.