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Gilani leaves for Russia to attend SCO summit

November 06, 2011

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani. – File Photo

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani left here on Sunday for a two-day visit to Russia's city of Saint Petersburg to represent Pakistan at the 10th Heads of Government meeting of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

Talking to mediamen at Chaklala airbase before his departure, the Prime Minister said SCO is an extremely important forum and the meeting will focus on security and economic issues.

He said the SCO countries will hold discussions on regional infrastructure, connectivity, energy projects and various other areas of mutual interest.

Gilani will meet the Prime Ministers of Russia and China on the sidelines of the SCO meeting, which will take place on November 7.

Gilani is attending the summit on the invitation of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

He said he will be meeting the Russian premier for the third time and gas imports and issues related to Pakistan Steel Mills will come under discussion.

To a question, the Prime Minister stressed that trade is an important component of regional cooperation.

He said Pakistan has already signed a transit trade agreement with Afghanistan and is looking for ways to expand commerce with Central Asian states.

The focus will remain on bolstering trade with immediate neighbours of Pakistan, he added.

Prime Minister Gilani will present Pakistan's case at the SCO forum and will seek full membership of the organization.

Pakistan is desirous of becoming a full member of this forum on account of its immense potential for dealing with common regional challenges.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is a regional security platform whose profile and scope of agenda, has assumed great importance over the years.

The SCO, founded in Shanghai in June 2001, groups China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

Pakistan holds the observer status along with Mongolia, India, and Iran whereas Sri Lanka and Belarus have been granted the status of dialogue partners.

The upcoming session is aimed at highlighting importance of coordination among the member states on issues of resolving economic crises and developing trade and diplomatic ties along with other observer states and regional partners.