- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 18, 2001

From combined dispatches
Pakistan's top foreign policy official said yesterday that Islamabad has not imported Chinese technology to bolster its missile arsenal, but he pledged that his country would "cherish" and "nurture" its relations with Beijing.
Foreign Secretary Inam-ul-Haque noted that Chinese leaders already had denied a story in The Washington Times that said a state-run Chinese company, the China National Machinery & Equipment Import & Export Corp., sent a dozen shipments of missile components to Pakistan this year. The story cited U.S. intelligence officials familiar with reports on the transfers detected by a spy satellite.
"I can also confirm that there have been no missile technology transfers between China and Pakistan in recent years," Mr. ul-Haque said during an appearance at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington. "Pakistan is not interested in an arms race in the region."
Mr. ul-Haque's remarks contradicted comments made this week by Republican Sen. Fred Thompson of Tennessee, who just returned from meetings in China. Mr. Thompson said Wednesday that China recently had been "caught shipping additional missile components to Pakistan."
Reports of China's missile technology transfers have created tension between the United States and Beijing as President Bush prepares to visit China in October.
Despite his denials of missile technology transfers, Mr. ul-Haque said objections to Pakistan procuring weapons from China were out of line, arguing that archrival India had long been equipping itself with foreign arms.
And with U.S.-Pakistani relations enduring a tense phase, he said Islamabad wants to improve its ties with Beijing.
"This is a relationship that we cherish. We will continue to nurture this relationship in the future."
After meetings at the State Department yesterday, Mr. ul-Haque said he was hopeful the United States would soon lift sanctions imposed on Pakistan and India after the two countries tested nuclear weapons in 1998.
"These sanctions are not serving any purpose, and it would be better if they were removed," he said. "They are, in fact, redundant."
The Bush administration is expected to decide next month whether to lift these sanctions. In recent months, U.S. officials have made clear they are interested in removing post-test sanctions on India, but they have been divided on how to handle Pakistan, which is subject to other sanctions as well.
State Department discussions yesterday touched on the overall relationship, stability in the region, the restoration of democracy in Pakistan, nonproliferation concerns, cooperation against terrorism, and trade and economic issues, a U.S. official said.
The two sides made no progress on U.S. efforts to convince Pakistan that instead of supporting one faction in Afghanistan — the Islamic fundamentalist Taliban — it should join Washington in trying to get all the various Afghan groups to form a more broad-based government.
Mr. ul-Haque said Pakistan supports the Taliban politically but does not provide it with military aid.


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