Source AP ©

Russia, Pakistan to strengthen cooperation

Russia and Pakistan will now longer feel the Cold War-era unease in their relations. They agreed Thursday to increase economic cooperation and step up efforts in the international fight against terrorism.

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov arrived in Pakistan on Wednesday for a three-day visit, the second by a Russian prime minister since 1969.

Pakistan and Russia had uneasy ties in the past, mainly due to Pakistan's key support for Islamic guerrilla groups that fought Soviet Russian troops in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

Fradkov held talks Thursday with his Pakistani counterpart, Shaukat Aziz, on Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, terrorism and economic cooperation.

The two countries agreed to increase economic cooperation, Fradkov said, as he welcomed an offer by Aziz inviting Russian companies to invest in oil, gas and mineral exploration in Pakistan.

"We have agreed on the necessity to build up the efforts of the international community in combating international terrorism," Fradkov said at a news conference with Aziz.

"Pakistan believes that strong relations with Russia are in an important part of our foreign policy objectives," Aziz said.

Trade between Pakistan and Russia currently totals US$520 million (EUR387 million) a year.