Following is the transcript of the conversation between PM Shehbaz and President Putin which took place yesterday. The transcript has been issued by the Kremlin.
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Prime Minister,
I am delighted to meet you. I have a warm recollection of my working meetings with your brother [Nawaz Sharif], with whom we met on the sidelines of SCO meetings in Kazakhstan and in Bashkiria, Russia.
I would like to note that we see Pakistan as a priority partner in Southeast Asia and Asia as a whole. Relations between our countries are developing absolutely positively, and we are pleased about that.
I would like to begin our meeting by expressing condolences over the loss of life from natural disasters, the unprecedented flooding in Pakistan. For our part, we are willing to help your people. We have dispatched the necessary humanitarian aid there, and we are ready to help you organise assistance to the flood victims.
As I have noted, our relations are developing very positively and in many spheres. Trade and economic ties are the first sphere worthy of note. Regrettably, our trade has subsided somewhat because of the pandemic, but the next meeting of the intergovernmental commission is scheduled to take place in Karachi this autumn. I hope that our colleagues on both sides will not only find ways to restore mutual trade but also to increase it.
There are things we need to work on, and we see good prospects in several spheres, such as railway transportation and energy. There are very interesting and large-scale projects, namely the Pakistan Stream gas pipeline project, which involves building the infrastructure needed for the delivery of LNG.
The objective is to deliver pipeline gas from Russia to Pakistan. This is possible as well, in view of the fact that some infrastructure is already in place in Russia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. We need to settle the Afghan issue. There are problems with political stability there, but I hope this problem can be settled as well, because we have good relations with the people of Afghanistan. I also have in mind Pakistan’s ability to influence the situation there.
We can implement many other interesting projects. We will do everything in our power to continue working in a positive spirit.
Prime Minister of Pakistan Shehbaz Sharif: Thank you, Your Excellency President Putin.
It is really a great honour and a pleasure to call on you along with my colleagues, the Foreign Minister, Defence Minister and Finance Minister. My brother, Nawaz Sharif, sends you his very warm regards. I brought good wishes for you and the people of your great country, Russia, from Pakistan. The people of Pakistan convey their very good wishes to you.
President Putin, thank you for your condolences message. We have had devastating floods because of unprecedented torrential rains in Pakistan, which have hurt the entire country: 33 million people have been affected, 1,400 have died, and hundreds of children have died. Millions of acres of crops – rice, cotton, sugar cane – all gone. Millions of houses have been damaged, partially or completely. The Foreign Minister’s province of Sindh has been most devastated, as well as Balochistan, and then other parts of Pakistan. Thank you for your support. We have received your valuable support at this critical time. We are very grateful to you.
I just want to let you know that my fond memories with your great country go back to 1968–1969, when I was a student. That was my first trip to any international country. So, I went to Moscow – my father sent me for business training. I met companies like Stankoimport and Mashinexport – they had their office at Dom 35, Moscow. That is my memory with your great country.
At that time, we had barter trade between Pakistan and the Soviet Union. The first steel plant was built by the Soviet Union in Karachi. His grandfather, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, laid the foundation stone. We had tremendous partnership – that is the kind of relationship Pakistan had with your great country. It is on its own, it does not need any support, it is inclusive and it is not at the cost of any other country.
Your Excellency, we want to build our relations with your great country with full commitment and full dedication, because you are a superpower. Pakistan stands to gain from this mutual cooperation, mutual understanding, promoting trade, investment, and other areas like gas pipelines. We had signed a protocol in 2016–2017 that needed to be implemented. Unfortunately, for some reason, it could not be, but I know the potential your great country has, from which Pakistan must benefit in our own interest.
I have come here with my delegation with this proposal for your kind consideration, Mr President. We need to further cement our relations. We need to further build our relations in the field of energy, in the field of trade, in the field of investment and of course other strategic areas.
You are a man of action. You decide, and then you implement. I want to assure you that I want to work closely with you for our mutual [benefit].