| Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf (left) with former Chinese President Jiang Zemin in Beijing on Wednesday. (AFP)
Beijing, Nov. 5 (Reuters): Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf bagged a half-billion dollar loan from China and commitments to boost trade, but flew out today without an expected nuclear power plant cooperation deal in hand.
“No agreement has been signed on nuclear plant cooperation,” a Pakistan embassy spokesperson said. “It was just speculation.”
Before Musharraf left for China, a Pakistani foreign ministry official said it was possible a deal would be finalised whereby China would help Pakistan build a nuclear power plant on the banks of the Indus.
If it goes ahead, it will be the second nuclear power plant in Pakistan to be built with Beijing’s assistance.
“I was surprised it wasn’t one of the deals they signed,” said a Western diplomat.
During Musharraf’s visit, his first to Beijing since a sweeping leadership transition in China, seven official agreements, including an extradition treaty and a preferential trade agreement, were signed.
He also secured a $500 million loan for bilateral trade and economic cooperation, the China Daily newspaper said.
About 20 other deals — joint ventures, letters of intent, memoranda of understanding — were also signed between Pakistani and Chinese companies.
China’s foreign ministry spokeswoman said yesterday the two sides had discussed the power plant and “reached a consensus”, but declined to explain what that meant.
Still, Musharraf spoke highly of his trip on the third and final day during meetings with Chinese defence minister Cao Gangchuan and head of the powerful Central Military Commission, former President Jiang Zemin.
“We had an excellent time here in China for the last three days. In fact, we feel very much at home here in China,” Musharraf, who swept to power in a bloodless coup in 1999, told Cao.
The US, entangled in a year-old crisis over North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, has repeatedly urged China to stop its nuclear cooperation with Pakistan, but Beijing and Islamabad stress their cooperation is for peaceful purposes.
Pakistan has also been accused of helping North Korea with its nuclear arms ambitions in return for missile parts. Washington sanctioned a Pakistani laboratory in March for arranging a transfer of nuclear-capable missiles to Pakistan from North Korea.
Pakistan has also been accused of sharing expertise with Iran that could help Tehran develop nuclear weapons.