The London-based Financial Times newspaper reported on Wednesday that Zardari was also keen to secure a soft loan of between $500m and $1.5bn to help steer Pakistan away from potential bankruptcy, without citing sources.

Nuclear talks

A deal between Pakistan and China on civil nuclear power is also thought to be up for discussion during Zardari's visit.

An agreement on civil nuclear power would follow a similar deal between India and the United States.

Qin Gang, a spokesman for China's foreign ministry, said Beijing and Islamabad shared "sound co-operation in nuclear energy" but did not give any details on any deal.

"I would like to stress our co-operation is totally consistent with the two countries' respective international obligations and is totally for peaceful purpose and subject to IAEA [a UN nuclear inspectorate] supervision," Qin said on Tuesday.

The visit comes amid tensions between Islamabad and Washington over the direction of an alliance aimed at cracking down on fighters linked to al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

In a recent interview with China's Xinhua news agency, Zardari he wished to strengthen ties with Beijing in order to strengthen efforts against the fighters.

Zardari is set to meet Wen Jiabao, China's prime minister, on Thursday.