President of Pakistan Arrives in Russia

President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, general Pervez Musharraf is arriving in Russia Tuesday at the invitation of Russian President Vladimir Putin. This information was provided by the press service of the Kremlin.

The negotiations between the Pakistani president and the Russian leadership will be held on February 5-6. The programme of Musharraf's stay in Moscow includes his meeting with representatives of the Russian business community.

Spokesman for the Russian foreign ministry Alexander Yakovenko told RIA Novosti Russia noted with satisfaction that Russian-Pakistani contacts, including at the summit level, had been intensified of late.

The diplomat stated that the principled and constructive tone to the Russian-Pakistani political dialogue was set during the meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and President of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf within the framework of the summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA) held in Alma Ata in June 2002.

Yakovenko pointed out that "Pakistan occupies an important place and plays an independent role in foreign policy priorities of Russia which are determined by the influence of the country in the region, which is directly bordering on CIS southern frontiers, and in the Islamic world as a whole.

Yakovenko pointed out that Moscow comes out for expanding the Russian-Pakistani economic co-operation. "The present-day mutual trade does not correspond to the available potential (in 2002 it totalled about $100 million)," he said.

The diplomat believes that both countries "have an opportunity of technical co-operation at the installations built in Pakistan with Russia's participation, for instance the steel plant in Karachi." President Musharraf told RIA Novosti and ITAR-TASS shortly before his arrival in Russia that he expected his Moscow visit to help begin a new epoch in Russian-Pakistani relations.

We have already been co-operating in metallurgy, energy production, in the oil and gas sectors. We expect Russian investments in these spheres to increase. We also used the Russian experience when launching our meteorological satellites into space, the Pakistani president stated.

At the same time, he said, Pakistan has an unfavourable trade balance with Russia. We hope to change the situation for the better by sending to Russia some of our traditional export goods, such as sport goods, surgical instruments, leather goods and agricultural produce, Musharraf stressed.

The visit of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf to Russia will last till February 6.

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