China defends Paks fight against terrorism

Beijing: In the face of severe criticism of Pakistan over the presence of Osama bin Laden on its soil, China on Tuesday put up a strong defence of its close ally saying Islamabad has made important contribution to the global fight against terrorism.

"We have to admit that the Pakistan government is firm in resolve and strong in action in the fight against terrorism, and Pakistan government has made important contribution to the international fight against terrorism, to which we should have no doubt," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu told a media briefing here.

Answering a volley of questions on the US commando action on bin Laden`s hideout at Abbotabad yesterday that resulted in the killing of the al-Qaeda chief, Jiang said, "Pakistan is at the important forefront of international war on terrorism."

"We have noted the Pakistan Foreign Ministry has said after the incident that it will never allow its territory to be used for terrorist activities and terrorist attacks against any country and Pakistan will continue to support the international efforts against terrorism," she said.

"We respect, understand and support Pakistan`s above position. China will continue to firmly support Pakistan`s formulation and implementation of anti-terrorist strategies based on national conditions," she said.

China would like to "work with Pakistan, India and other South Asian countries to maintain peace and harmony in South Asia," Jiang said.

On whether China will press Pakistan to take action against perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks, Jiang said "both India and Pakistan are major countries in South Asia."

"Improving relations and enhancing coordination, taking common action to maintain regional stability and development is in the interest of both countries."

"We have seen positive measures taken by both countries in improving relations. We uphold principles of non-interference in other`s internal affairs," she said.

Asked whether China would like to join US and NATO-led international coalition against terrorism in Afghanistan, Jiang said, "International community should step up coordination through multi-lateral channels."

"We have always been supporting Afghan reconstruction and will continue to provide assistance to Afghan government.

We would like to see a peaceful, stable and independent Afghanistan."

Jiang, who termed bin Laden`s killing as a milestone in the international efforts against terrorism, said both the US and China are victims of terrorism.

China supports countries formulating programmes in terms of their national conditions and international laws to address both the symptoms and causes of terrorism, she said.