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Pakistan wants bilateral relations with Russia;Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif

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UFA:(APS) Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said on Friday that Pakistan attached great importance to its ties with the Russian Federation and was keen to enhance bilateral relations.

“We want a multi-dimensional relationship with Russia in the fields of trade, defence, energy, infrastructure, culture and other spheres,” the prime minister said in a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the SCO Summit.

This was the first ever meeting between Nawaz and President Putin.

“We are grateful to the Russian Federation for its support to Pakistan’s entry into Shanghai Cooperation Organisation as a full member,” the premier remarked.

Both delegations expressed confidence that the Sharif-Putin meeting would help raise the level of friendship and cooperation between the two countries.

President Putin congratulated Nawaz Sharif on Pakistan’s formal accession to the SCO.

He said Russia attached importance to its relations with Pakistan and would like to further enhance them, particularly in the economic domain.

Both leaders reviewed progress on a number of projects under consideration, especially in the energy sector.

They expressed satisfaction on the progress being made in finalising the North-South gas pipeline agreement and decided to expedite the process.

Earlier, President Putin announced that Pakistan and India will join the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) as permanent members, a group dominated by Russia and China which also includes former Soviet republics in Central Asia.

Russia sees the organisation, expanding for the first time since its creation in 2001, as a counterweight to Western alliances.

Putin opened the annual summit by announcing the acceptance of Pakistan and India as members. He said Belarus would obtain observer status, joining Afghanistan, Iran and Mongolia, while Azerbaijan, Armenia, Cambodia and Nepal would be welcomed as “dialogue partners.”

The SCO leaders expressed hope that Iran also would soon become a member, but said Tehran first needed to reach an international agreement on curbing its nuclear programme.

Putin said some of the greatest security threats facing the region emanated from Afghanistan, noting the increased activity of the self-styled Islamic State group. He said the leaders agreed to strengthen counter-terrorism cooperation and to work together to fight drug trafficking from Afghanistan.

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“It is obvious that together we can more effectively resist crisis events in the world economy and finance, more easily overcome restrictions and barriers of various kinds,” Putin said while talking about plans to deepen economic and trade ties.

Earlier on Friday, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif addressed the SCO summit during which he said that the SCO partners have an ambitious agenda to achieve.

“We must ensure regional stability and further economic integration to realise our goals. We must work together to mitigate differences, resolve outstanding disputes and create a favourable environment for the betterment of our peoples. This is how the true Shanghai spirit will be fully realised.”

Primier Nawaz Sharif in a meeting with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani commented on the “upward trajectory” of Pak-Afghan relations.

The meeting which took place on the sidelines of the SCO summit in Russia comes just days after Pakistan brokered talks between the Afghan government and the Afghan Taliban in Islamabad.

The two leaders expressed satisfaction over the progress made in the July 7 talks which were held to promote peace and reconciliation process.

Ghani and Nawaz exchanged views on how to carry forward the peace process. They also exchanged views on the efforts being made by the respective sides to counter terrorism and extremism.

President Ashraf Ghani appreciated Pakistan’s efforts and its role in facilitating peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan, expressing hope that these efforts would lead to lasting peace and stability in the country.

The Pakistani Prime Minister spoke of the need for both countries to persevere to overcome challenges and build a cooperative relationship on “strong foundations”.

He reaffirmed Pakistan’s desire to build a positive and forward-looking relationship with Afghanistan.

Nawaz also extended an invitation to President Ashraf Ghani to jointly inaugurate the ministerial conference of the Heart of Asia process to be hosted by Pakistan in December 2015.

Advisor to the Prime Minister on National Security Sartaj Aziz; Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Tariq Fatemi, and Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry were present at the meeting. Afghanistan’s Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani and National Security Advisor Hanif Atmar were also present during the meeting.

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