Islamabad: The Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani held a very important and detailed bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin of Russia on the side lines of the SCO Heads of Government meeting on 7th November, 2011 in St. Petersburg. In the meeting a wide range of subjects pertaining to bilateral relations and regional situation came under discussion.
Prime Minister Putin, while welcoming Prime Minister Gilani underscored the importance of Pakistan, for peace and stability in the region. He also conveyed Russia’s willingness to build broad based and close ties with Pakistan. In this regard, he offered Russia’s assistance in fields like energy and electricity supply, infrastructure building and metallurgy.
He also stated that Pakistan and Russia could identify new areas for collaboration such as in science and technology, education, civil aviation in the inter Governmental Commission’s Meeting that is scheduled to take place in the second half of December this year.
Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani thanked Prime Minister Putin for extending very warm and cordial welcome to him and his delegation. He underlined that Pakistan and Russia were located in the same extended neighbourhood and their cooperation in economic and commercial fields will have added significance during the times when the world is facing global economic and financial crisis. In this situation inter and intra regional cooperation is of critical importance.
Prime Minister Gilani also emphasized the great importance that Pakistan attached to the SCO. He remarked that notwithstanding the fact that the SCO meeting fell on the day of Eid-Ul-Azha, he even then decided to come to Saint Petersburg to attend it. It also gave him an opportunity to celebrate Eid-Ul-Azha with the members of Pakistan community and Russian friends.
He specially thanked Prime Minister Putin for Russia’s support to Pakistan’s bid for full membership of SCO that Prime Minister Putin had earlier declared in the SCO’s Heads of Government Meeting.
Prime Minister Gilani underscored that in Pakistan’s view Russia’s enhanced role in the region is a factor of stability and will have positive bearing on the security situation and economic well being of the entire region.
In this context he welcomed Russia’s offer of US$ half a billion assistance for building CASA-1000 project, Gazprom’s interest in participating in the energy projects of Pakistan specially in the coal exploration of Pakistan’s coal deposits. Moreover he welcomed Gazprom’s willingness to participate in projects like TAPI and IP.
In the bilateral field the two leaders mostly discussed mega projects. Russia reiterated its offer of assistance for expansion and modernization of Pakistan Steel Mills, exploitation and gasification of Thar Coal deposits, and upgradation of Guddu and Muzaffar Garh Power Plants.
Prime Minister Putin specifically renewed the offer of Russia’s technical assistance and US$ 500 million (as creditor loan) for the expansion of Pakistan Steel Mills capacity. In the areas of trade and banking the two sides discussed “special arrangements” for augmenting their cooperation.
Prime Minister Gilani particularly mentioned Pakistan’s interest in Currency Swap Arrangements between the two countries. Prime Minister Putin accepted the proposal. Possible collaboration in some other areas, such as Civil Aviation was also discussed.
On the various aspects of the regional security situation, there was complete convergence of views between Prime Minister Gilani and Prime Minister Putin. Both the sides renewed their commitments to counter terrorism, extremism, and drug trafficking and agreed, that, the reconciliation process and establishment of peace and stability in Afghanistan has to be Afghan led and Afghan owned.
The meeting between the two Prime Ministers took place in extremely warm and cordial atmosphere. It has further strengthened the new understanding between the two countries to build broad based partnership.
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