BEIJING, May 19 (UPI) -- Pakistan, whose ties with Washington are strained after Osama bin Laden's death, was assured by China that they will "always be partners and brothers."
The assurance was given by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao to visiting Pakistani Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani at their meeting in Beijing Wednesday.
Gilani is visiting Pakistan's "best and most trusted friend" China as his government and its military face tough questions on how they could not have known about the presence of al-Qaida leader bin Laden, who died in a May 2 raid by U.S. forces on his huge compound in the Pakistani garrison town of Abbottabad, close to the capital Islamabad.
"I want to stress that no matter how the international situation changes, China and Pakistan will always be good neighbors, friends, partners and brothers," Wen said, China's state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
China has always described its ties with Pakistan -- both rivals of India -- as "all-weather friendship."
Xinhua reported a number of cooperative documents between the two countries would be signed during Gilani's four-day trip.
Gilani, in his comments, recalled Wen's earlier visit to Pakistan "during which we made important decisions to take our defense, economic and cultural ties to new heights."
Pakistan's leading Dawn newspaper reported China had asked the United States to respect Pakistan's sovereignty and to acknowledge its sacrifices in the war against terror.
The report said Wen told Gilani China has taken up the Pakistani issue with U.S. officials during the recent strategic and economic dialogue in Washington.
Gilani was quoted as telling reporters Pakistan and China had agreed to bolster their defense ties and that China had promised to help enhance the capacity of Pakistan's armed forces. Gilani also was quoted as saying his China visit had been arranged prior to May 2 and hence had nothing to do with the bin Laden killing.
He said Pakistan would review its counterterrorism strategy and relationship with the United States.
"We will decide rules of business for any future cooperation with America," he said.
Pakistan's News International quoted sources as saying the two sides agreed to step up work on Pakistan's satellite, currently being built in China with an Aug. 14 launch date.