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Zardari in Russia, on first foreign visit since Osama killing

President Asif Ali Zardari will talk trade, energy and counter-terrorism cooperation with Russia.



Moscow: President Asif Ali Zardari will
talk trade, energy and counter-terrorism cooperation with
Russia during his visit to this country, his first to a
foreign nation since Osama bin Laden was killed on Pakistani
soil.

Zardari arrived here today on a four-day visit during
which the two sides are expected to sign several agreements to
enhance their bilateral trade and energy cooperation.

According to sources here, the two countries are also
expected to sign a memorandum of understanding on civil
aviation.

The key international issues like anti-terror combat,
regional security and cooperation at the regional and
international fora like Shanghai Cooperation Organisation
and Islamic Conference are expected to be discussed tomorrow
at Zardari`s talks with President Dmitry Medvedev at the
Kremlin summit.

Although Medvedev has frequently met Zardari on the
sidelines of international meets and multi-lateral formats,
this will be first official visit of the Pakistani President
and observers here note that it acquires special importance in
the wake of the US killing of Osama bin Laden in Abbotabad.

This is Zardari`s first foreign visit since the May 2
raid by US forces that killed bin Laden, raising several
questions on Pakistan`s role in harbouring him.
As cracks appear in the US-Pakistan alliance, Zardari
might seek closer alliance with Russia, Sergei Strokan South
Asia analyst of prestigious Kommersant daily believes.

In his interview to local media, Zardari has invited
Russia to use Pakistani territory to fulfil the old dream of
Russian czars to seek access to "southern seas".

According to him, such a move would contribute to
economic prosperity of both countries.

Zardari said Moscow and Islamabad have so far failed
to use their potential for economic cooperation to the full
and voiced hope that the forthcoming talks with the Russian
leaders would provide a fresh impulse for bilateral relations.

In Moscow, Zardari is scheduled to address the faculty
and students at the Skolkovo School of Business. On Friday,
Zardari will travel to St Petersburg at the end of his state
visit.

PTI

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