Pak `most important` partner in South Asia: Putin

With deterioration of Islamabad`s ties with Washington, Moscow is seeking a closer relationship with Pakistan.

Last Updated: Nov 08, 2011, 16:18 PM IST

Moscow: Pakistan is Russia`s "most important"
partner in South Asia and in the Islamic world, Prime Minister
Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday during a meeting with his Pakistani
counterpart in St. Petersburg.

"Pakistan today is not an important trade and economic
partner of Russia, but also most important Russian partner in
South Asia and in the Islamic world," Putin was quoted as
saying at his meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Raza
Gilani.

The two met on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation
Organisation (SCO) prime-ministerial meet in St. Petersburg,
ITAR-TASS reported.

Welcoming Gilani, Putin said he was happy to see him in
Russia and his hometown St. Petersburg, though he had met him
earlier in other countries.

He also confirmed Moscow`s readiness to invest USD 500
million on the CASA-1000 electric transmission line to supply
Pakistan with the Central Asian power from Tajikistan and
Kyrgyzstan.

With deterioration of Islamabad`s ties with Washington,
Moscow is seeking a closer relationship with India`s archrival
with the blessing of China - Pakistan`s "all-weather" friend.

This Russian shift in South Asia policy where India had
always been Moscow`s main partner is reflection of
apprehensions over New Delhi-Washington relationship turning
into a military-political alliance to block Russia and China`s
interests in the region.

Moscow also believes that the key to the stability in
Russia`s soft belly - Central Asia -- is ties with Islamabad,
which has the potential of creating mischief along and inside
the borders of the former Russian empire.

PTI