MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that a pipeline for gas supply to Pakistan is possible, and that part of the necessary infrastructure is already in place, Russian state-owned news agency RIA reported.
President Putin and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif met on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan.
The high-level meeting came after the prime minister reached the Uzbek capital to attend the annual meeting of the SCO’s Council of Heads of State (CHS) during a two-day visit, from September 15 to 16.
President Putin said that he was delighted to meet Shehbaz Sharif as he had a warm recollection of his working meetings with his brother [Nawaz Sharif], with whom he met on the sidelines of SCO meetings in Kazakhstan and in Bashkiria, Russia.
Putin said that he would like to note that he sees Pakistan as a priority partner in Southeast Asia and Asia as a whole. Relations between two countries are developing absolutely positively, and he is pleased about that.
“I would like to begin our meeting by expressing condolences over the loss of life from natural disasters, the unprecedented flooding in Pakistan. For our part, we are willing to help your people. We have dispatched the necessary humanitarian aid there, and we are ready to help you organise assistance to the flood victims.”
“As I have noted, our relations are developing very positively and in many spheres. Trade and economic ties are the first sphere worthy of note. Regrettably, our trade has subsided somewhat because of the pandemic, but the next meeting of the intergovernmental commission is scheduled to take place in Karachi this autumn. I hope that our colleagues on both sides will not only find ways to restore mutual trade but also to increase it,” President Putin said.
He said, “There are things we need to work on, and we see good prospects in several spheres, such as railway transportation and energy. There are very interesting and large-scale projects, namely the Pakistan Stream gas pipeline project, which involves building the infrastructure needed for the delivery of LNG.”
He said, “We need to settle the Afghan issue. There are problems with political stability there, but I hope this problem can be settled as well, because we have good relations with the people of Afghanistan. I also have in mind Pakistan’s ability to influence the situation there.”
“We can implement many other interesting projects. We will do everything in our power to continue working in a positive spirit,” President Putin maintained. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif thanked President Putin by saying that it is really a great honour and a pleasure to meet him. He also thanked President Putin for his condolence message.
Shehbaz said, “We have had devastating floods because of unprecedented torrential rains in Pakistan, which have hurt the entire country as 33 million people have been affected, 1,400 have died, and hundreds of children have died. Millions of acres of crops – rice, cotton, sugar cane – all gone. Millions of houses have been damaged, partially or completely.”
He added: “We want to build our relations with Russia with full commitment and full dedication. Pakistan stands to gain from this mutual cooperation, mutual understanding, promoting trade, investment, and other areas like gas pipelines. We had signed a protocol in 2016–2017 that needed to be implemented. Unfortunately, for some reason, it could not be, but I know the potential Russia has, from which Pakistan must benefit in our own interest.”
“We need to further cement our relations. We need to further build our relations in the field of energy, trade, investment and strategic areas. “The global economic turbulence has necessitated the need for more cooperation among the SCO member countries. The SCO vision represents the aspirations of 40 per cent of the world population,” he said.
After the meeting with Putin, the prime minister held a bilateral meeting with Tajikistan’s President Emomali Rahmon. The two leaders held wide-ranging talks covering all aspects of mutually-beneficial bilateral cooperation, including regional and international issues.
The prime minister thanked Tajikistan for its support to the flood-affected people in Pakistan and shared details of the devastation caused by the massive floods, induced by climate change.
The prime minister underlined the importance of regular meetings on bilateral institutional mechanisms and the establishment of mutually beneficial cooperation in the implementation of energy projects. He also reiterated Pakistan’s resolve to timely completion of the important “CASA-1000” power transmission project.
The SCO summit will be chaired by Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, where important global and regional issues, including climate change, food security, energy and sustainable supply chains will be discussed.
The SCO leaders would also approve agreements and documents that would chart the future direction of cooperation among the organisation’s member states. The prime minister emphasised the expansion of cooperation in the field of road transportation and underscored the importance of connectivity. He underlined Pakistan’s readiness to provision of access to Gwadar and Karachi to Tajikistan.
President Rahmon extended profound sympathies and condolences over the loss of human lives and devastation caused by the floods in Pakistan and assured of Tajikistan’s full support in the efforts for relief and rehabilitation of the affected people.
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif and Finance Minister Miftah Ismail, Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood and senior officials were also present.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev held a meeting on the sidelines of the SCO summit and discussed issues of mutual interest. The meeting focused on strengthening Pak-Uzbek ties in diverse fields for the benefit of the two brotherly nations.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif held a bilateral meeting with the President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko on the sidelines of the SCO Council of Heads of State meeting in Samarkand, on Thursday. The two leaders comprehensively reviewed the bilateral relationship and discussed regional and international issues.
The prime minister highlighted the massive human and material losses caused by the unprecedented floods in Pakistan and thanked President Lukashenko for his sympathies and condolences over the devastation caused.
While appreciating the broad framework of cooperation and mechanisms in place, the prime minister expressed his commitment towards increasing the momentum of bilateral collaboration in all fields, including political, trade, investment and economic cooperation between Pakistan and Belarus.
The two sides also agreed to hold the next session of Pakistan-Belarus Joint Economic Commission (JEC) at the earliest, which could prove instrumental in enhancing bilateral trade and mutual cooperation in diverse areas.
The prime minister conveyed Pakistan’s support for Belarus’ full membership of SCO and expressed the confidence that this would further strengthen the organization. He accepted the invitation by President Lukashenko to visit Belarus. The prime minister also extended an invitation to the president of Belarus to visit Pakistan
Prime Minster Shehbaz Sharif also met President of Iran Ebrahim Raisi, on the sidelines of 22nd Meeting of the Council of Heads of State of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation here.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif visited the ancient Khizar mosque of Uzbekistan’s historic city, Samarkand. The prime minister appreciated the architectural masterpiece of the mosque built in the eighth century. PM Sharif also paid respects at the mausoleum of Uzbekistan’s first president Islam Karimov.
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