PM Imran lauds Russia’s efforts for supporting Afghan peace process

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan while appreciating Russia’s efforts for supporting the Afghan peace process has stressed the need for a peaceful political settlement of the Afghan conflict.

Prime Minister Imran Khan was talking to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who called on him in Islamabad on Wednesday.

On this occasion, PM Imran said that resolution of conflict in Afghanistan is essential for upholding peace in the region. “Russia’s move to hosting the recent meeting of Extended Troika in Moscow is an important step in this regard,” he added.

Pakistan attaches significance to its relations with Russia as a key foreign policy priority, the prime minister maintained. The PM also expressed satisfaction at the steady growth in bilateral ties, including security, defense and trade.

The premier also reaffirmed Pakistan’s resolve to expeditiously conclude the requisite legal process for the Pakistan Stream (North-South) Gas Pipeline project and commence the work as soon as possible.

He congratulated Russia on its development of the Sputnik-V vaccine and underscored Pakistan’s procurement plans in this regard. Regarding the Kashmir issue, the premier highlighted the need for peaceful resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute.

Both dignitaries discussed enhanced bilateral cooperation in the fields of energy, industrial modernization, railways, and aviation. Views were also exchanged on the health and economic challenges posed by the COVID-19 epidemic. On this occasion, the PM invited Russian President Putin to visit Pakistan.

Earlier the day, the foreign ministers of Pakistan and Russia held delegation-level talks focusing on a wide range of bilateral relations including economy, trade and defence.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov led their respective sides and discussed matters pertaining to regional and international importance. This is the first visit of a Russian foreign minister to Pakistan in nine years. 

Later addressing a joint news conference, the Russian Foreign Minister said his country stands ready to further build counter-terrorism potential through the provision of military equipment.

He said this is in the interest of all states of the region and both sides have agreed to further conduct military exercises and drills. Lavrov expressed satisfaction over a 46 percent increase in bilateral trade but stressed there is a need to further diversify it.

Discussing the opportunities in the energy sector, the Russian Foreign Minister said both the countries are now discussing a new protocol on the Stream Gas Pipeline project and as soon as it is signed, the construction work on the project will be started.      

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov termed the relationship between the two countries mutually beneficial and constructive. He said Russia has provided 50,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to Pakistan and intends to provide 150,000 more.