BEIJING: China on Monday reassured Pakistan that relations between the two countries were as firm as ever and would "never rust", ahead of a meeting this week between President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi that could unnerve Islamabad.
China and Pakistan like to call each other "all weather friends" and their traditional close ties have long been viewed with suspicion by Pakistan's neighbour and traditional enemy, India.
But Modi has tried to reset relations with Beijing after a years of disagreements over everything from their border to exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, and will hold an informal summit with Xi on Friday and Saturday in China.
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China will continue to firmly support Pakistan, its top diplomat, State Councillor Wang Yi, told Pakistan's Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif at a meeting in Beijing.
"We are ready to work together with our Pakistani brothers to undertake the historical mission of national rejuvenation and achieve the great dream of national prosperity and development," Wang said. "In this way, our iron friendship with Pakistan will never rust and be tempered into steel."
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There was no mention of the Xi-Modi meeting in comments made in front of reporters.