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Sep 25 - Oct 01, 2000

Russian President Putin for better ties with Pakistan

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday his country assigned "special importance" to its relations with Pakistan, and stressed the need for establishing "mutually beneficial bilateral cooperation".

Mr Putin was speaking at a ceremony where Pakistan ambassador to the Russian Federation, Syed Iftikhar Murshed, had presented his credentials to him, said a press release of the Pakistan Embassy in Moscow issued on Thursday.

President Putin referred to his recent meeting with the chief executive, Gen Pervez Musharraf, in New York. He described the meeting as "very positive".

The ambassador conveyed warm greetings and good wishes from the president and the chief executive to the Russian president which were warmly reciprocated.

Masood Haider adds from New York: Pakistan and Russia reaffirmed their support to the efforts being made by the UN secretary-general's special representative as well as under the "Six-plus-Two" mechanism to resolve the Afghanistan conflict.

At a meeting on the sidelines of the General Assembly session on Tuesday, Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar and Russian Foreign Minister Igor S. Ivanov held in-depth discussions on the Afghan situation.

They also stressed the need for strengthening bilateral cooperation.

They expressed satisfaction over the recent ministerial meeting of the Six-plus-Two group, and concurred that there could be no military solution to the Afghan conflict.

Mr Sattar welcomed President Putin's decision to send his special envoy to Pakistan. During the past week, Mr Sattar had held meetings with the foreign ministers of Belgium, Bhutan, Cuba, Germany, Kuwait, Laos, Libya, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, US, and Vietnam. The ministers had evinced understanding and desire to promote cooperation with Pakistan.

Rice support price raised by 10%

The government has enhanced rice support price by 10 per cent (Rs20 to Rs35 per 40kg) in different varieties and allocated Rs1 billion to Passco for purchasing the paddy crop at the new rates.

The decision on the new support price and other measure was taken at an emergency meeting, presided over by chief executive Gen Pervez Musharraf.

The meeting, attended by Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz, Commerce Minister and Advisor to the chief executive on agriculture, M. Shafi Niaz, was briefed by agriculture secretary Dr Zafar Altaf about the existing rice crisis and possible solutions.

World Bank holds talks on $350m loan

A high-ranking World Bank mission comprising senior officials from policy, power and infrastructure and banking and finance sectors held negotiations with the Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz on a $350 millionstructural adjustment loan (SAL) of on Thursday.

The World Bank side was represented by Mr John Panzer, senior economist,

Joe Pernia, division chief banking & finance, Jaarda Leeuwen, principal analyst and John Wall, country director for Pakistan.

The mission reviewed the reform programme in the areas of energy sector, banking and civil services and governance and expressed satisfaction over the pace of implementation.

TCP payment to ginners

Trading Corporation of Pakistan has made the first payment against procurement of 100 bales of cotton in Sindh at the rate of Rs1,935 per maund.

A TCP official said here on Thursday that the corporation has so far purchased 5,200 bales of cotton with a grade Box 3 of Pakistan Cotton Standard Institute (PCSI).

PTCL to extend internet facilities

The PTCL has made elaborate plans for the extension of Internet facilities to maximum cities on local call charges-basis. These plans are aimed at promotion of Information Technology in the country.

As per plan approved by the government and formally inaugurated by the President of Pakistan on Aug 17, the PTCL will connect 262 cities with Internet by October 2000. While till June 2001, over 400 cities/towns will get the facility.

Boosting trade with China

The chief executive, Gen Pervez Musharraf, said on Monday that his government was taking steps for the development of Northern Areas and boosting trade with China and Central Asian states.

"We intend to open this region for trade with China and Central Asian Republics," he said while speaking to the participants of the International Silk Route Festival at the newly-inaugurated Lalak Jan stadium.

He said the government planned to lay a network of roads linking Chitral, Hunza, Skardu, Chilas and other parts of Northern Areas to promote tourism and trade activities in the region.

2 airports, 2 seaports may be privatized

The government is considering a proposal for granting handling concessions of two airports and two ports to the private sector, says privatization commission chief.

"Concessioning of Lahore International Airport and Quaid-i-Azam International Airport as well as two ports in Karachi is being studied," the PC chairman, Altaf Saleem, told envoys of European Union at a briefing held at the French embassy on Wednesday.

He said a decision had already been taken to privatize Pakistan International Airlines Corporation.

BCCI elections

The progressive group, headed by Sardar Mohammed Ali Jogezai, have won all the eight seats in the annual elections of Balochistan chamber of commerce and industry held on Thursday.

UK-based traders to get all facilities

British-based Pakistani traders and industrialists will be provided all possible facilities and incentives for investment in different sectors of Balochistan.

"We will give full protection to foreign investors and their invested capital," Justice Amirul-Mulk Mengal extended this assurance to Pakistani businessmen based in United Kingdom who called on him at the Governor House on Wednesday.

BMG sweeps

Businessmen Group, led by S.M. Munir, has swept the elections of the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) for the year 2000-2001, bagging all the ten seats.