Pakistan, Russia agree to take forward trade ties
Apr 12, 2007 - 11:14:00 PM

Islamabad, April 12 - Pakistan Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz and his Russian counterpart Mikhail Fradkov Thursday held wide-ranging talks here and agreed to enhance bilateral ties, especially in trade and economy.

'Both sides agreed to promote trade ties and considered using Iran as a corridor between the two countries for this purpose,' Aziz told journalists at a joint press conference after one-on-one and delegation-level meetings with Fradkov and his entourage.

The leaders also discussed cooperation in the field of energy by sharing expertise in oil and gas exploration as well as coal and hydropower generation.

Referring to Islamabad's recently announced plan to award contracts for laying its portion of the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline, Aziz said his government would welcome Russian participation in its $3 billion project.

'Pakistan believes that strong relations with Russia are an important objective of its foreign policy,' Aziz said, observing that Pakistan and Russia had a commonality of views on regional and international issues.

The Pakistan prime minister said they shared ideas on resolving disputes in the Middle East with an aim of bringing peace to the region, adding that the security situation in Afghanistan and dialogue between Islamabad and New Delhi over the disputed territory of Kashmir also came under discussion.

Satisfied with the outcome of his meetings with the Pakistani side, Fradkov said: 'Russia believes that in future both countries need regular consultations for expanding ties.'

Responding to a question on Russia's stance on the nuclear crisis in Iran, Fradkov said the government in Moscow favoured Tehran's nuclear programme under the control of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

However, he added that 'we are not closing doors to further talks and the possibility of Iran implementing a peaceful nuclear programme'.

Senior Pakistani and Russian officials earlier signed a memorandum of understanding - under which Russia will assist Pakistan in modernising its railway services.

A separate MoU was also reached to promote cultural, educational and scientific exchanges between the two countries.

Both sides also agreed to cooperate in combating the trafficking and abuse of narcotics and psychotropic substances.

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