Vladimir Putin to Hold Talks With President of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf

Russian president Vladimir Putin will hold talks with Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf who arrived on an official visit to Russia on February 4th, reported the Kremlin's press service.

The last official visit by a Pakistani president to Moscow took place more than 30 years ago.

Four documents are expected to be signed by the results of the visit, in particular on restructuring the Pakistani debt and introducing mutual offsets.

During the talks the Russian and Pakistani presidents will discuss the situation around Iraq, Afghanistan, prospects for the normalisation of relations between India and Pakistan, the Moscow-Islamabad political collaboration on the international scene as well as the further development of trade and economic ties.

Moscow comes out for giving a new qualitative impetus to bilateral economic cooperation. The Russian economists believe that bilateral trade does not correspond to the available opportunities (about 100 million dollars in 2002).

According to the Pakistani diplomats in Moscow, Pervez Musharraf will raise the question, during the talks, about the intention of Islamabad to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). He believes that the Pakistani SCO membership will help the two countries to come closer together in combating terrorism. Shortly before his departure to Moscow, the president of Pakistan expressed the hope in an interview with RIA Novosti that Russia would support Islamabad on this issue.

Musharraf also pointed out that Pakistan and Russia can, and are already cooperating, in solving many international problems.

We cooperate in metallurgy, energy production, and in the oil and gas sectors and expect that the Russian investments in these industries will be increased, Musharaff pointed out. He also stressed that Pakistan used the Russian experience when launching its meteorological satellites to space.

At the same time, Musharraf said, Pakistan has an unfavourable balance of trade with Russia and added that the country hopes to change the situation for the better by sending to Russia a part of its traditional export items such as sports and leather goods, surgical instruments, and agricultural produce.

Pervez Musharraf is going to address the Russian business elite and speak about the possibility of investing Russian capital in the economy of Pakistan.

For his part, spokesman for the Russian foreign ministry Alexander Yakovenko said in an interview with RIA Novosti that the two countries "have a substantial potential of technical cooperation at the installations built in Pakistan with our participation, in particular the steel plant in Karachi." Yakovenko recalled that "a principled and constructive tone of the Russian-Pakistani 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.

The Russian visit of Pervez Musharraf will last till February 6th.

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