MOSCOW: Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari arrived on Wednesday for talks with Russian leaders in Moscow, his first foreign visit since the killing of Osama bin Laden by US forces.
On Thursday Russian President Dmitry Medvedev will host Zardari for talks at the Kremlin where officials from the two countries are also expected to sign agreements on cooperation in agriculture, aviation and energy, a spokesman for the Pakistan Embassy in Moscow told AFP.
"Economics will be the focus of the visit," said the spokesman, Raja Abdul Qayyum.
Zardari arrived on Wednesday afternoon but has no official events scheduled until Thursday.
Russia and Pakistan called for the development of regional economic projects and the revival of cooperation that dated back to the Soviet era at a rare summit last year.
Medvedev hosted Zardari at his Black Sea residence in Sochi as part of the four-way summit which also included Afghanistan and Tajikistan last August when the four states agreed to pursue joint economic projects to help bring stability to the volatile region.
Citing a source close to the management of state conglomerate Russian Technologies, Vedomosti business daily said on Thursday that the highlight of the Zardari visit would be a preliminary agreement to give Pakistan a $540 million loan to rebuild the Soviet-built Pakistan Steel plant.
A delegation from Prominvest, a Russian Technologies subsidiary, has visited the plant and reached preliminary agreements, the source told the newspaper. Russian Technologies could not confirm the report. The three-day visit to Russia is Zardari's first foreign visit after 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.