ST PETERSBURG - For the first time, Russia publicly endorsed Pakistan’s bid to get full membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), as (Russian) Prime Minister Vladimir Putin made this announcement in response to Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani’s address at the SCO meeting at the Constantine Palace.
The Russian prime minister supported Prime Minister Gilani’s proposals for implementing trade and energy projects, and announced financing 0.5 billion dollars for the CASA-1000 that would ensure power transmission from Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan to Pakistan and Afghanistan.
In practical and tangible terms, Putin said that Russia wants materialization of projects including TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) gas pipeline project and the Central Asia South Asia Electricity Trade and Transmission Project (CASA 1000). Later, the two leaders held bilateral meeting and discussed several important issues including fight against terrorism and extremism.
Both the leaders called for the need to adopt regional approach towards dealing with major challenges. Prime Minister Putin termed his meeting with Prime Minister Gilani very pleasant and expressed satisfaction over bilateral and trade ties between the two countries. “Pakistan is important for us in trade and economy and it is an important partner in South Asia and in Islamic world,” he said.
Putin offered Russia’s assistance in expansion of Pakistan Steel Mills and provision of technical support for the Guddu and Muzaffargarh power plants. He said Russia could facilitate Pakistan in the execution of Thar Coal Project. Gilani said this was his fourth meeting with Prime Minister Putin.
He mentioned that he joined other leaders at the SCO forum despite the occasion of Eid because of the importance of the forum and also of Pakistan’s commitment to the regional issues. He appreciated Russia’s support for mega projects including CASA 1000.
Putin supported Pakistan’s stance on war on terror and agreed to pursue the policy of counter-terrorism for ensuring regional peace. The two prime ministers agreed that collective regional efforts were required to eliminate terrorism from the region to usher in peace and stability, and re-direct all energies towards economic interaction among the members of SCO.