Pakistan and Russia on Friday took another step forward in their efforts to turn a new page in bilateral relations by focussing on trade and economic interactions and working together for the stability and peace of the region.
On the sidelines of Quadrilateral Summit now officially termed as Dushanbe-4 President Asif Ali Zardari and his Russian counterpart Anatolyevich Medvedev, while agreeing to build their equation independent of their bilateral relations with other countries, agreed to further strengthen bilateral relations and to broaden the scope of existing equation with an extended trade, economic, scientific and technological cooperation along with various other important areas including energy, counter-terrorism and strategic stability.
President Zardari reiterated his call to institutionalize a regular dialogue between the two countries at the Foreign Ministers’ level with annual bilateral meeting, alternatively in Islamabad and Moscow, to sustain the upward trajectory in the relationship.
Briefing the media about the meeting of the two Presidents, Spokesperson to the President, Farhatullah Babar said that during their sixth meeting in a period of less than three years, the two Presidents reviewed the progress made so far on the decisions taken during their earlier meetings.
He said that besides discussing need to further enhance cooperation in various areas, the two President also discussed the regional situation with reference to threat from militants including various other menaces such as drug-trafficking and the future likely situation of the region in wake of fast changing situation and recent developments.
Babar said that that the mutual desire and understanding to enhance mutual cooperation in energy, oil and gas and power sector is beneficial to Pakistan keeping in mind Russia’s expertise in the energy sector.
He said that during previous visit of the President in May this year the two countries inked Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on energy cooperation which includes cooperation in exploration, development and operation of oil and gas fields, hydrocarbon processing, coal industry, energy infrastructure, energy efficiency and all other mutually agreed areas of cooperation under the framework.
The need to further extend mutual cooperation in the areas of technical expertise, education field and scientific spheres was also agreed upon by the two presidents during their meeting. It was agreed to hold, at the earliest, the next session of Inter-Governmental Commission that caters to promote cooperation in these spheres.
During meeting President Zardari emphasized upon the need to materialize full existing trade potential between the two countries saying that greater market access to each other goods and services would help to enhance the existing trade volume of about 300 million dollars to $1 billion.
The President also reiterated his offer to his Russian counterpart for Russian Banks to open their branches in Pakistan, on one hand, and to consider entering in currency swap agreement, on the other.
He hoped that Pakistan’s proposal to declare Karachi and Saint Petersburg as sister cities, upon its materialization, would serve to enhance mutual cooperation and promote trade and economic activities between the two countries.
Discussing regional situation, the two Presidents showed their keen desire to work together for the peace and stability of the region. President Zardari said that Pakistan considers Russia an important player in the world affairs and an important stakeholder in the peace at regional and global level.
He reiterated Pakistan’s principled stance of its abiding interest in peace, stability and development of Afghanistan saying that Pakistan was committed to work with international community for the peace and stability of the country.
Other matters that also surfaced during the discussion of the two presidents included their similar stances on issues like membership of Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) on various international forum such as United Nations.
President Zardari also expressed the hope that Russia would support Pakistan’s candidature for a non-permanent UNSC seat for the term 2012-13.
Cooperation in defence sector was also discussed during the meeting, Babar said. President Zardari also extended to his Russian counterpart invitation to pay visit to Pakistan, Babar said. / APP