ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan-China Friendship Centre was inaugurated by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani in Islamabad on Saturday.
The foundation of the centre had been laid by the Chinese premier in April 2005. The centre had been under construction for five years, with expenditure worth of Rs5 billion on it.
Wen Jiabao was presented bouquets by two children clad in traditional Pakistani dress as he arrived at the Pak-China Culture Centre.
Speaking on the occasion, the Chinese premier said the center is a symbol of long-lasting ties between the two countries. He also announced that China would be providing Cataract treatment free of charge for 2,000 Pakistanis in Beijing every year.
Prime Minister Gilani thanked the Chinese premier for standing by Pakistan during rough times. He expressed hope that the friendship between the two nations would remain exemplary.
School children in traditional dresses carrying Pakistani and Chinese flags also presented a dance on the occasion.
Jiabao was briefed about various sections of the centre which houses a 800 seat auditorium, conference centre for 200-250 persons, exhibition area, multi-purpose hall, and an art and dance centre over 12 acres of land. He was apprised that the centre built by the Shanghai Construction Group would now be run by the Ministry of Culture after its inauguration. He was told that the centre would help enhance people to people contact and help the two countries understand each other’s culture.
The Chinese premier is scheduled to meet services chiefs and PML-N leader Mian Nawaz Sharif today. Chiefs of the armed forces will also call on the Chinese prime minister later in the day.
Meanwhile, President Asif Ali Zardari will host a dinner in honour of the visiting dignitaries. Sources have said that Pakistan and China will sign business deals worth $14 billion as well.