President Asif Ali Zardari returned here on Wednesday after a few hours visit to the Russian city of Sochi during which he participated in the quadrilateral summit of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Russian Federation on regional peace, security and economic development.He also held separate bilateral meetings with Hamid Karzai President of Afghanistan, President Emomali Rahmon of Tajikistan and President Dmitry Medvedev of the Russian Federation.
President Asif Ali Zardari called for generous help and assistance of international community to overcome the challenges of relief and reconstruction, faced by Pakistan in the wake of devastating floods.
“We are meeting in Sochi at a sobering and tragic moment. Our region is once again struck by unprecedented natural disasters,” he said with reference to the worst devastation ever caused by the floods in Pakistan.
The floods have resulted in a humanitarian nightmare and Pakistan needs generous help and assistance of the international community to overcome the challenges of relief and reconstruction, President Zardari said while speaking at the Second Quadrilateral Summit of Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Russia held here in Sochi.
He also mentioned the unprecedented forest fires in Russia and said, “We are also saddened by huge losses,”. The President urged the need for collective efforts and measures to be better prepared for such natural calamities.
President Zardari called for greater cooperation among the regional countries including Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Russia to effectively tackle the complex challenges of security and development, faced by the region.
“Terrorism, extremism, drug trafficking, organized crime, need to be seen in terms of their root causes. They thrive on ignorance, deprivation and poverty. Our countries need greater cooperation to effectively tackle them”, he stressed.
He said the problem of security is deeply rooted in lack of development, adding, “it cannot be treated in isolation. Our meeting should therefore focus both on security and development.”
The President was accompanied by Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar, Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir, Special Secretary Shaukat Haroon, Ambassador Khalid Khattak and Spokesperson Farhatullah Babar.
The joint declaration issued at the end of the four state summit reaffirmed the countries’ determination to counteract illicit trafficking of weapons, drugs, money laundering, terror financing and transboundary organized crimes and vowed to implement joint projects in energy and transport infrastructure development.
The four countries also launched an international appeal to provide urgent assistance to the flood victims in Pakistan.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, left, listens to his Pakistani counterpart Asif Ali Zardari during their meeting in the Bocharov Ruchei residence near Russia's Black Sea resort of Sochi, Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2010. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev offered Pakistan support in dealing with catastrophic floods.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev offered Pakistan support in dealing with catastrophic floods as he hosted the leaders of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Tajikistan for talks on efforts to stabilize the region
Medvedev began his meeting with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari in Russia’s Black Sea resort of Sochi by expressing condolences over the floods that have killed about 1,500 and affected some 20 million people.
“We would like to continue cooperating in fighting terrorism, drug trafficking and international crimes. That’s why everything we discussed earlier could be continued, even though there is a good political dialogue, it is very important to develop economic ties,” Medvedev said in his televised remarks at bilateral meeting with Zardari.
“We are mourning together with you and we are ready to provide all the necessary assistance,” Medvedev said.
A Russian Emergency Situations Ministry plane delivered relief supplies to Pakistan on Tuesday, and another such flight will be conducted Thursday.
Briefing newsmen about the visit Spokesperson to the President. Farhatullah Babar said that the bilateral meeting with Russian President Medvedev resulted in an agreement to hold the inaugural session of Russia-Pakistan Inter-Governmental Commission next month in Islamabad to bolster economic cooperation.
The bilateral also produced a willingness by the Russian Federation to participate in the Iran-Pakistan Gas Pipeline project, renovation and expansion of the Pakistan Steel Mills, up-gradation of the railway tracks and some projects in the energy sector besides offer to increase the number of Pakistani students in Russian academic institutions.
President Zardari offered exploration concessions to Russian companies to help Pakistan overcome the energy shortage adding also that it was also keen to bolster security cooperation within mutually agreed parameters with the Russian federation.
The two sides also agreed to open their respective bank branches in each other’s country, Farhatullah Babar said.
The Russian President also called upon the international community to immediately provide tents and medicines to the flood victims for their immediate relief.
During meeting with President Karzai of Afghanistan President Zardari welcomed the conclusion recently of the Afghan Transit Trade Agreement.
He called upon early completion of necessary formalities in both the countries to operationalise the agreement which he said was necessary for the economic well being of the two countries.
Economic development holds the key to winning the war against militancy that thrived on poverty, deprivation and lack of economic opportunities Farhatullah Babar quoted the President as saying.
President Zardari reiterated non-interference in Afghanistan’s internal affairs and appreciated President Karzai’s decision to adopt reconciliation as a central pillar of its peace strategy.
President Karzai accepted the invitation to visit Pakistan which will take place sometime soon after Ramazan. The Pakistan government will also consider giving scholarships to Afghan students for study in the professional colleges in Pakistan, the spokesperson said.
In bilateral meeting with the Tajikistan President the two leaders decided to fast track implementation of the CASA-1000 mega project for importing power from Tajikistan and to work together for building a trade and energy corridor through Central Asia besides setting up joint ventures in energy, pharmaceutical, textiles and manufacturing sectors. The two sides also decided to revitalize the Joint Economic Commission and explore a trilateral trade agreement with Afghanistan. They also decided to pursue with Afghanistan, the road project linking Pakistan to Tajikistan and beyond. The proposed road will pass through Durra Pass and the Wakhan Strip in Afghanistan. Pakistan has already completed feasibility of the portion of the road on its side, Farhatullah Babar said.
The President on Thursday will accompany Senator John Kerry on a visit to the flood-affected areas.