Putin defers Pakistan visit; quadrilateral summit postponed
ISLAMABAD: Russian President Vladimir Putin has postponed a much anticipated visit scheduled for next week in which he was expected to meet leaders of Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The quadrilateral summit, which was planned to be held here from Oct 2-3, is being rescheduled, a Pakistani Foreign Office spokesman said in a statement Thursday.
“New summit dates will be worked out after seeking convenience of the respective leaders through diplomatic channels,” it said.
The statement added that the Russian president, in a letter to President Asif Ali Zardari, expressed his eagerness to further develop Russian-Pakistani ties and trade and economic projects.
“I am confident that in future we shall be able to find opportunities for arranging our personal meeting. We shall always be happy to receive you in Russia”, Putin said in his letter to his Pakistani counterpart, according to the Foreign Office statement.
Accords likely to have been signed during visit
Both Russia and Pakistan have been working behind the scenes for a rapprochement after decades of acrimony and mistrust. The new direction in the relationship has been forced by the developments in Afghanistan and a strong push by President Asif Ali Zardari and former Russian president and current prime minister Dmitry Medvedev – who have both met six times during the past three years.
According to an earlier Foreign Office statement, the inter-governmental commission (IGC) on trade, economic, scientific and technical cooperation had approved in a meeting on Sept 10 the text of memorandums of understanding that may have been signed during Putin’s trip.
Moscow has shown special interest in energy projects, including Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline. Russia, it is learnt, had agreed to invest $500 million in the CASA-1000 (Central Asia-South Asia) electricity transmission project, besides helping Pakistan in upgradation of Pakistan Steels Mills. Russian energy giant, the state-controlled gas monopoly Gazprom, has been interested in laying the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline.