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Russia, Pak officials approve accords to be signed during Putin's visit

Publication Date : 11-09-2012


Taking forward the quiet reset in their ties, Pakistan and Russia yesterday held the second meeting of inter-governmental commission (IGC) on trade, economic, scientific and technical cooperation, weeks ahead of a likely visit by the Russian President to attend a meeting with leaders of Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The IGC, launched in 2010 for promoting bilateral cooperation, in its meeting approved the text of memorandums of understanding that may be signed during Vladimir Putin’s trip.

Both sides have been working behind the scenes for a rapprochement after decades of acrimony and mistrust. The new direction in the relationship has been forced by the developments in Afghanistan and international political dynamics.

“The commission discussed enhancing mutually beneficial economic relations...They also finalised the texts of memorandums of understanding for greater cooperation in various spheres,” said a Foreign Office statement issued after the meeting.

At the talks, Russia was led by Sports Minister Vitaly L. Mutko and Pakistan by Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Malik Amad.

Yesterday’s meeting was held after a delay of almost a year. At the first round of IGC both sides had agreed to a meeting in 2011.

Moscow has shown special interest in energy projects, including Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline. Russia, it is learnt, had agreed to invest US$500 million in the CASA-1000 (Central Asia-South Asia) electricity transmission project, besides helping Pakistan in upgradation of Pakistan Steels Mills.

The meeting was attended by the Russian deputy minister for energy and representatives of leading Russian energy giants, including Gazprom, the state-controlled gas monopoly.

Gazprom has been interested in laying the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline and its representative made a presentation at the meeting.

The reset in bilateral ties has been pushed by President Asif Ali Zardari and former Russian president and current prime minister Dmitry Medvedev who met six times during the past three years.

President Zardari in his meeting with the visiting Russian minister underscored the importance of increased contact and bilateral exchanges for strengthening ties.

He said he looked forward to welcoming President Putin in Islamabad and noted that the visit would provide momentum to cementing relations and promoting cooperation on various issues at regional level.

The president welcomed Russian interest in the Iran-Pakistan pipeline project, CASA-1000 and Tapi.


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