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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 
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)
17-Jan-2000 03:31 AM EDT (17-Jan-2000 0831 UTC)
Source: Voice of America

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