| GEO World|
Russia, Pakistan, Afghanistan back joint economic projects
| Updated at: 0043 PST, Thursday, August 19, 2010|
SOCHI: The presidents of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Russia agreed on Wednesday to pursue joint economic projects to help bring stability to the volatile region as they met for a rare regional summit.
The four-way summit, which also involved Tajikistan, adopted a joint declaration, saying it supported intentions by businesspeople from Russia, Pakistan and Tajikistan to help Afghanistan rebuild its infrastructure, including in energy and transportation industries.
Priority should be given to works on the Salang tunnel linking northern and southern parts of Afghanistan, oil and gas projects in the north of the country, a fertilizer factory and an electric power station in Mazar-i-Sharif and a home-building factory in Kabul, among others, the statement said.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev hosted Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai, Pakistan leader Asif Ali Zardari and Emomaly Rahmon of Tajikistan in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.
The leaders also called for pursuing joint regional projects, including a project codenamed CASE-1000, whose aim will be sending power from Tajikistan to Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters that the project "unfortunately exists only on paper" and that the three countries had invited Russia to participate in it.
"Our interest in it exists," Lavrov said. "The significance of this project for the stabilization of the regional situation ... is hard to overestimate."
Speaking earlier at the summit, Medvedev said the four countries should revive economic cooperation that dated back to the Soviet era.
"I think it makes sense to return to them to try to give additional impetus to the economic development (and) solve a whole number of urgent tasks, including in energy and social development," Medvedev said.
The four leaders agreed that "economics is the key to overcoming all problems," Lavrov said.