Issues to be discussed at Putin-Musharraf meeting

Russian President Vladimir Putin is meeting his Pakistani colleague Pervez Musharraf in Almaty. At the outset of the meeting, Putin said it would be concentrated on bilateral relations, fighting terrorism, and Indo-Pakistani relations.

According to him, the Pakistani President's recent statements (including the one made on Tuesday at the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia) give grounds to optimism.

Putin hopes to discuss with Musharraf the measures that could be taken "not only to smooth the escalating conflict between India and Pakistan, but also to avoid confrontation in the future." The Russian President noted that "the international community had recently been very concerned about the developments on the Indo-Pakistani border".

While addressing Musharraf, Putin said: "Our colleagues - and I have had a lot of meetings, including the recent Russia-EU and the Russia-NATO summits - express their concern and asked me to tell you about it".

"Russia appreciates the stance of President Musharraf following September 11th, which is a great contribution to the fight against terrorism," the Russian head of state stressed.

He was pleased to point out that Russian-Pakistani co-operation "at the highest level" had notably intensified lately.

The Russian president recalled that his last meeting with Musharraf had taken place at the Millennium summit in New York, when they agreed to continue the contacts.

The Pakistani leader noted in his turn that Pakistan treated Russia with great esteem and considered it a great nation which must play significant role in international relations. According to him, the Pakistanis also respect Vladimir Putin and admire his daring efforts at reforming Russia. The Pakistani leader is impressed by Putin's other qualities too - for instance, his passion for judo. Musharraf said he had used to practice this sport.

The Pakistani President regretted that he had no chance to meet Vladimir Putin after the Millennium summit.

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