MOSCOW (Agencies) - Pakistan and Russia on Thursday agreed to promote trade, investment and pursue joint projects particularly in energy, infrastructure development, metal industry and agriculture.
In a joint communiqu issued after the meeting of President Asif Ali Zardari and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in Kremlin, both leaders agreed that this enhanced cooperation would help develop a strong bilateral relationship based on mutual respect and mutual interests. President Zardari is on his first three-day official visit to Russia at the invitation of his Russian counterpart. In the last 37 years, President Zardari is the first Pakistani President who is visiting Russia officially.
In 1974, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, paid an official visit to the then Soviet Union. Earlier, in his interview to the local media, Zardari has invited Russia to use Pakistani territory to gain an access to southern seas.
According to him, such a move would contribute to economic prosperity of both countries. Both Zardari and Medvedev emphasised the importance they attach to promoting stability and peace in the broader region and, in this regard, to continue to enhance contacts, consultations, cooperation and coordination between the two countries.
The two sides welcomed the signing of the agreement between Pakistan and Russia on air transport as well as the memorandum of understanding between the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources of Pakistan and the Ministry of Energy of the Russian Federation in energy and agriculture sector cooperation.
Earlier, President Zardari and President Medvedev held a one-on-one meeting followed by delegation-level talks. Both leaders discussed bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual interest and concern.
President Zardari and his Russian counterpart emphasised the importance of developing mutually beneficial economic cooperation between the two countries, which is to be promoted by the Pakistani Russian Intergovernmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation that held its first meeting in Moscow in September 2010.
Discussing regional issues, the presidents 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.
The presidents expressed their deep concern about the threat of terrorism and drug related crimes persisting in the region.
Both Pakistan and Russia underlined the importance of joint efforts to fight terrorism and narco related crimes, posing a serious challenge to the international peace and stability - along the whole chain of illegal production and distribution of drugs.
The two sides welcomed the signing in October 2010 of the agreement between the Ministry of Narcotics Control of Pakistan and the Federal Drug Control Service of Russia on cooperation on combating illicit trafficking of drugs, psychotropic substances and their precursors.
The presidents recognised the need for promoting trans-regional economic and trade cooperation. Regional development projects would ensure prosperity for the people of the region and it was important to optimally utilise national economic complementarities. They agreed to coordinate their efforts bilaterally as well as through regional multilateral cooperative mechanisms.
In this regard, the two sides expressed keen interest in the implementation of projects related to the creation of a system to transmit electric power from Tajikistan to Afghanistan and Pakistan (CASA-1000) and to the building of a gas pipeline between Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI).
President Zardari supported Russias offer to participate in the projects and underscored the need for their early realisation.
Russian side welcomed Pakistans involvement in the activities of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Russias support for Pakistans joining the SCO along with other candidates was reaffirmed subject to the consent of all its members.
President Zardari and Dmitry Medvedev reiterated the importance that the two countries attach to the quadrilateral process (Russian Federation, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Afghanistan) and reaffirmed their commitment to further interaction in this format in close cooperation with the SCO.
The presidents commended the considerable progress made in the political and security dialogues between Pakistan and Russia, including at the top level. There has been a notable intensification of contacts on wide range of topics between ministries and departments of two countries, the joint communiqu said.
They commended the Russian business communitys interest in participating together with the Pakistani government and businesses in a number of economics, infrastructure and banking projects. The Russian side reaffirmed the willingness of Russian companies to cooperate with Pakistan. In particular, the state owned enterprise Tyazhpromeexport is ready to take part in the modernisation of Pakistan Steel Mills in Karachi, while the INTER RAOUES would contribute to the building of energy generating facilities and Gazprom to the development of gas fields in Pakistan.
The two sides agreed to promote finance and banking sector cooperation and enhance bilateral trade and investment. In this context, they agreed to study the concept of currency change/barter agreements as well as offering incentives based on regime mechanism to promote their joint ventures.
Pakistan and Russia also agreed to promote cooperation in the field of education, including student and academic exchanges; science and technology; health sciences and marine sciences.
They also agreed to promote cultural and increase people to people and parliamentary contacts and exchanges. President Medvedev accepted President Zardaris visit to Pakistan on mutually convenient dates.
Meanwhile, Pakistan and Russia on Thursday signed four Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) on energy cooperation, air space, promotion of investment and cooperation in agriculture sectors. The MoU on air services was inked by Defence Minister Ch Ahmed Mukhtar and Russian Transport Minister Igov Levttin.
The MoU on energy cooperation was signed by Advisor to Prime Minister on Petroleum and Natural Resources Dr Asim Hussain and Russian Minister for Energy Sergei Shnatro. The MoU on agriculture cooperation was signed by Russian Acting Minister for Agriculture Kovolev while Pakistan Minister for Agriculture and Food was represented by Pakistan envoy in Moscow Mohammad Khalid Khattak while the MoU on promotion of investment between the two countries was signed on Wednesday between the two countries by Chairman Board of Investment (BoI) Salim H Mandviwala and chairman Russian National Investment Agency.