Pakistan, Russia reaffirm commitment to building long-term ties

Friday, Feb 10,2012, 4:49:28 PM

Pakistan and Russia reaffirmed their commitment to build a long-term and broad-based partnership between Russia and Pakistan.

The pledge was made during an official visit of Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar to Russian Federation from 7 to 9 February, at the invitation of Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

According to Foreign Office here, during the visit, the two sides held in-depth discussions on a range of bilateral matters, as well as on important regional and international issues of mutual interest. The two foreign ministers also reviewed the progress made on the understandings reached between the leadership of the two countries during President Asif Ali Zardari's official visit to Moscow in May 2011 and Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gillani's meeting with his Russian counterpart on the sidelines of SCO [Shanghai Cooperation Organization]'s Heads of Government meeting in November last year.

Taking note of the considerable progress made in the political and security dialogue and intensification of high-level contacts in recent years between the two countries, they agreed that there existed a large potential for further enhancing bilateral cooperation, particularly in trade, investment, energy and agriculture.

They also expressed satisfaction at the outcome of the meeting of the Joint Working Group on Energy Cooperation held in Moscow last year. The two sides discussed several concrete proposals including oil exploration, hydropower production/distribution and coal-based power generation projects. Pakistan welcomed Russia's willingness to participate in trans-regional energy projects namely, TAPI [Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India] and CASA [Central Asia South Asia]- 1000. Pakistan also welcomed Russian interest in the Thar coal exploration.

The foreign ministers noted with satisfaction that substantial progress had been made towards finalizing the proposed MoU on Expansion and Modernization of the Pakistan Steel Mills and hoped that all other formalities including financing of the project will be finalized soon.

Noting the fruitful work carried out by the last meeting of the Inter-Governmental Commission held in Moscow in 2010, the two foreign ministers looked forward to the second meeting of the commission to be held in Islamabad preferably during the first half of this year.

The two sides noted that the bilateral trade is far below the potential and underscored the importance of exploring ways and means to enhance it further.

They emphasized the importance of cooperation in the area of science and technology and hoped that the proposed MoU on Scientific and Technological Cooperation will be finalized on priority basis.

The two sides also reiterated their commitment to enhance parliamentary exchanges and promote cooperation in the fields of culture and education, including student and academia exchanges.

Discussing regional issues, the two sides underscored the importance of stability and peace in Afghanistan and reaffirmed their support for Afghan-led and Afghan-owned efforts towards promoting national reconciliation in Afghanistan.

Expressing their deep concerns about the threat of terrorism and drug-related crimes persisting in the region, representing a serious challenge to peace and stability, the two sides agreed to continue their cooperation in this regard.

The two sides agreed that the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) had become an important forum for regional security and economic cooperation. The Russian side re-affirmed its support for Pakistan's full membership of the organization.

The foreign ministers reiterated the importance the two countries attached to the quadrilateral process (Russian Federation, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Afghanistan) and reaffirmed their commitment to further interaction in this format.

Foreign Minister Khar extended invitation to the Russian president on behalf of President Zardari to attend the next quadrilateral summit meeting which is scheduled to be held in Islamabad this year.

Source: Associated Press of Pakistan news agency, Islamabad, in English 1453gmt 08 Feb 12

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