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Russia endorses full SCO membership for Pakistan

10 November, 2011

ST PETERSBURG: Russia on Monday, for the first time, publicly endorsed Pakistan's bid to get full membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin made this announcement in response to Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani's address at the 10th Heads of Government meeting of the SCO, at the Constantine Palace here.

The Russian premier also supported Prime Minister Gilani's proposals for implementing trade and energy projects. Putin said that Russia wants the materialisation 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 a bilateral meeting and discussed several important issues including the fight against terrorism and extremism, besides calling for the need to adopt a regional approach towards dealing with major challenges.

Russian Premier 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 told Prime Minister Gilani.

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.

Earlier while addressing SCO moot, the prime minister urged the need for greater cooperation among regional countries for their development and prosperity. He proposed a five-point development plan based on the SCO-sponsored intra-regional and inter-regional cooperation in trade, building infrastructure and power links.

The development plan included arranging finance and initiation of work on electricity transmission lines; taking concrete measures to start TAPI and Iran-Pakistan-India gas line projects; setting up a preferential and if possible a free trade zone in the SCO region; cooperation in the financial and banking sectors; and relaxation of visa regimes for diplomats, officials and businessmen.

Prime Minister Gilani represented Pakistan as an observer state at the SCO forum, and was joined by the leadership of SCO member states, including Russia, China, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, at the Constantine Palace here. He reiterated Pakistan's desire for a full membership of the SCO and expressed gratitude to all members for their support to this request.

Gilani termed security and development as important regional issues. He said the challenges of reconciliation, reconstruction and revival of Afghan polity needed to be addressed objectively. He welcomed the SCO's role and efforts in this regard.

He said Pakistan was optimistic that the problems in Afghanistan could be solved with the support of international community and by taking all Afghans on board, regardless of ideological, ethnic or political preferences.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao highlighted the SCO's role in eliminating terrorism, extremism and separatism and said the organisation needed to withstand the changes in international scenario. He supported Pakistan's proposal of building cross-border road links.


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