Ottawa, 20 December 2000 (RFE/RL) -- Canada and Russia have signed major co-operation agreements during a visit to Ottawa by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
At a signing ceremony on Monday, Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien said the agreements show expanding and deepening relationship between Canada and Russia. He said the two countries are building on a long tradition of bilateral co-operation.
In a Joint Statement on Strategic Stability, Canada and Russia agree that the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty is "a cornerstone of strategic stability" and "affirm their shared hope for conclusion of a START III Treaty as soon as possible, including far-reaching reductions in strategic offensive weapons while preserving and strengthening the ABM Treaty."
In a Joint Statement on Co-operation in the Arctic and the North, Canada and Russia renew their longstanding commitment to work together on "common challenges presented by the Arctic region." High priority is to be given to environmental protection, sustainable development and increased commercial ties. Special attention is to be paid to co-operation on aboriginal issues.
Canada also issued a statement backing Russian accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO).
The two leaders also signed a new agreement on air service, replacing one signed in 1966 with the former Soviet Union. It will enable airlines in both countries to significantly expand air services. Russia will now be allowed to serve Toronto and three other cities, in addition to its existing service to Montreal. Air Canada gains the right to service Moscow, St. Petersburg and three other Russian destinations.
Air Canada and Lufthansa will start flying into Moscow on a shared basis as of January 1, 2001. As well, the two countries have agreed to allow over-flights of each other's territory including transpolar routes which are being developed.
The last agreement signed on Monday is on the Principles and Basis for Co-operation between the Subjects of the Russian Federation and the Provinces and Territories of Canada, replacing a similar agreement signed in 1989 with the former Soviet Union. This agreement provides a legal framework for the development of closer ties between Canadian provinces and territories and their Russian counterparts.
Putin arrived in Canada on Sunday for his first official visit. Discussions with the Prime Minister and several of his Cabinet ministers were held on Sunday and Monday. On Tuesday, Putin was to fly to Toronto to address a luncheon meeting of senior business executives.
The Russian leader was also to meet with Ontario provincial politicians and members of the Russian-Canadian community before leaving the country today (Wednesday).