DATE=1/17/2000 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=CHINA / PAKISTAN (L ONLY) NUMBER=2-258126 BYLINE=ROGER WILKISON DATELINE=BEIJING CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: Pakistan's military ruler, General Pervez Musharraf, has begun a two-day visit to China -- an ally of his country for more than 30 years. V-O-A Correspondent Roger Wilkison reports diplomats in the Chinese capital believe General Musharraf's visit is an attempt to seek greater international acceptance of his rule. TEXT: China is the first non-Islamic country General Musharraf has visited since he ousted the civilian government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif last October. The coup has been strongly criticized in the West. But Beijing has refrained from public comment on the coup and says the fate of the former prime minister -- who has been charged with treason and hijacking -- is Pakistan's internal affair. General Musharraf said in an interview published Monday in the state-owned English-language "China Daily" democracy cannot be restored overnight in Pakistan. The Pakistani leader says he is concentrating more on what he describes as "the agenda at hand" than on a time frame for a return to civilian rule. The general has pledged to revive Pakistan's ailing economy, eliminate corruption and introduce sweeping political reforms before holding elections. In Beijing he is scheduled to meet with the three top men in China's Communist hierarchy: President Jiang Zemin, legislative boss Li Peng and Premier Zhu Rongji. The Pakistani Embassy says the purpose of General Musharraf's visit is to reaffirm what it calls Pakistan's close and cordial ties with China. The state-owned news media in China say Beijing and Islamabad see eye-to-eye on most international issues, including human rights. China has long been one of Pakistan's major suppliers of weapons technology. But it refrained from openly supporting its South Asian ally last June when Pakistan was embroiled in a confrontation with India over the disputed Kashmir region. Diplomats in Beijing say Indo-Pakistani tensions are likely to be on General Musharraf's agenda in the Chinese capital. India has accused Pakistan of masterminding a hijacking of an Indian airliner last month -- a charge Pakistan denies. Although they have been improving of late, China's relations with India have also entered into a delicate phase. Earlier this month, a high-ranking Tibetan lama fled to India and may ask for asylum there. China -- embarrassed by his flight -- has told India to ponder its moves carefully before granting the lama asylum. (signed) NEB/ RW / WD 17-Jan-2000 03:31 AM EDT (17-Jan-2000 0831 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .
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