Russia, Pakistan pledge common front on terror


Russia and Pakistan on Thursday pledged to coordinate efforts in the fight against terror as the Kremlin welcomed the Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari for a key visit after the killing of Osama bin Laden.
Meeting the Pakistani leader for talks expected to also produce several economic cooperation agreements, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said the two countries both suffered from terrorism.
“We are interested in coordinating our efforts on the international arena. It is obvious that our countries are facing absolutely the same threat, I mean international terrorism,” Russian news agencies quoted Medvedev as telling Zardari at the Kremlin.
“We have to do everything so that we could jointly counter this main evil of the 21st century,” Medvedev was quoted as saying.
Zardari, who kicked off his three-day trip to Russia on Wednesday, expressed hope his visit would help deepen ties between the two countries which share a complicated history.
“Our countries are very close neighbours, we are located in the same region and although we do not share borders our hearts beat in unison,” Russian news agencies quoted Zardari as saying.
“The time has come to acknowledge the importance of our countries for each other and the importance of our cooperation.”
Foreign news agencies were not invited to cover the talks.
The Russian trip is Zardari’s first high-profile visit abroad since the Al-Qaeda leader, the world’s most wanted man, was killed in the raid by US forces on a compound in Abbottabad in Pakistan.
The Kremlin hailed the death of bin Laden as a “serious success… in the war against international terrorism” but Pakistan has expressed fury that US forces carried out the raid without informing Islamabad first.
Russia has for years been struggling to root out a Muslim insurgency in the North Caucasus following two wars with separatists in Chechnya after the fall of the Soviet Union.
Moscow is not usually seen as an ally of Islamabad, not least because of its historically close ties to Pakistan’s traditional foe India.
Tensions also still linger over the Pakistani secret service’s backing of mujahedeen insurgents who fought against Soviet forces in Afghanistan during the 1980s.
Russia and Pakistan are hoping to pursue joint economic projects and officials from the two countries were also expected to sign agreements on cooperation in agriculture, aviation and energy.