‘Pakistan, Russia allies in every sense of word: Putin

DUSHANBE (Tajikistan) : Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin met here on Thursday and discussed bilateral, regional and international matters of mutual interest.The two leaders, who met here on the sidelines of the 9th SCO Heads of Government Council (HGC) hosted by Tajikistan, deliberated in detail on the prospects as well as the ways and means to further strengthen their bilateral relations through increased trade and economic interaction and cooperation in various fields.Prime Minister Gilani and Prime Minister Putin, who also discussed the situation in the region, were unanimous in the view that peace and security were vital for the enhanced economic development and prosperity of the people of this region.

During the meeting, which was scheduled for half an hour but continued for around 45 minutes, the two leaders had a frank discussion on various matters of bilateral and regional interest.Prime Minister Gilani was assisted by Minister for Water and Power Raja Pervez Ashraf, Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Syed Naveed Qamar, Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir and senior officials.Prime Minister Putin appreciated Pakistan’s efforts and sacrifices in the war against terrorism and extremism.He said despite the global recession the bilateral trade between Pakistan and Russia had improved and picked up over the last eight months.The Russian Prime Minister said that a number of Russian companies were interested to invest in Pakistan’s various sectors.  “Pakistan and Russia are allies in every sense of words”, he maintained.He also expressed his sympathies and condolences over the huge losses caused by the recent floods in Pakistan and said Russia was quick to respond and provided support to the Government of Pakistan in its relief and recovery efforts.Prime Minister Gilani thanked the Russian Prime Minister for his country’s support and assistance after the devastating floods hit Pakistan in summer, affecting over 20 million people.

Gilani also extended invitation to the Russian Prime Minister for an official visit to Pakistan.The Prime Minister recalled his last meeting with the Russian leader in Beijing in October 2009 and noted good progress in the bilateral relations, including high level contacts.He said,”Pakistan seeks a comprehensive partnership with Russia and is prepared to invest in developing mutually beneficial relations between the two countries for the shared goals of peace, stability and prosperity in the region”.The Prime Minister said he believed that their interests at most of the strategic, political and economic planes converge, adding, there are complementarities that must be utilized optimally to the mutual advantage.He said Pakistan and Russia should also consult closely on evolving new security architecture in the Asia-Pacific region as well as Greater Eurasian region.
Prime Minister Gilani suggested a bilateral dialogue between Pakistan and Russia on matters relating to peace and stability of Afghanistan.He said the two countries must supplement the existing mechanisms between the two foreign ministries for a high / senior level dialogue on strategic and political issues.

The Prime Minister said Pakistan and Russia have had good interaction at the official level between various departments as well as at the inaugural session of Inter-Governmental Commission in Moscow.“Our President has been participating in the quadrilateral process. We are happy that this process is now being institutionalized. We need to especially focus on our cooperation in building connectivity in trade and energy sectors”, he added.The Prime Minister proposed that Pakistan, Russia, Afghanistan and Tajikistan should initiate consultations on quadrilateral transit trade arrangement.Gilani said Pakistan was keen to expand its trade ties with Russia and he believed that the present volume of trade of $ 700 million could be enhanced to $ one billion.He also sought increased market access to Pakistani products in Russia, adding that there had been a renewed interest in Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India gas pipeline.The Prime Minister mentioned the signing of a new MoU on Cooperation in Oil and Gas between the two countries on November 19 during Pakistani Minister of Petroleum’s visit to Moscow and said, “We welcome the interest of GAZPROM and its subsidiaries in participating in Iran-Pakistan and TAPI gas lines projects”.He said,”Pakistan hopes that the Russian leadership and government will endorse this participation and encourage the Russian companies to take part in these projects”.The Prime Minister reiterated Pakistan’s interest in the purchase of MI-35 attack gunship helicopters to fight terrorism. He also proposed the signing of an MoU on Defence collaboration between Pakistan and Russia, to intensify cooperation in this important field – App