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Russia, Pakistan reaffirm to strengthen bilateral ties

ISLAMABAD: The foreign ministers of Pakistan and Russia on Wednesday 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 provision of military equipment.

He said this is in the interest of all states of the region and both the sides have agreed to further conduct military exercises and drills. Lavrov expressed satisfaction over 46 percent increase in bilateral trade but stressed there is 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 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 COVID-19 vaccine to Pakistan and intend to provide one 150,000 more.

Voicing concern over the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan, he said Pakistan and Russia have agreed to further facilitate the parties to reach an agreement to put an end to civil war through an inclusive political dialogue.

“We believe that against the backdrop of tensions in the region, we should not forget the task of establishment of the state of Palestine,” he said, adding that Russia stands ready to facilitate direct dialogue between Palestine and Israel.

In his remarks on the occasion, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said Pakistan is keen to build a strong multifaceted relationship with Russia. He said there is a new approach and mindset in Pakistan for relationship with Russia. “We feel that not just we have geographic proximity but Russia is a factor of stability in the region and the world at large,” he said.

Qureshi said Pakistan wants to build a relationship of trust with Russia. He said Moscow has always advocated primacy of international law and multilateralism and they have excellent cooperation at the UN. He reaffirmed the commitment to deepen relations with Pakistan and create win-win cooperation between the two countries. 

Qureshi agreed to hold the intergovernmental commission meeting this year in Moscow, expressing the confidence it will lay the foundation for a more meaningful economic relationship between the two countries.

Regarding Stream Gas Pipeline project, the Foreign Minister said they have overcome many of the obstacles, reassuring the Russian counterpart that Pakistan wants to go ahead and committed to the project.

Qureshi said that Russia has also acknowledged Pakistan’s successful campaign against terrorism and extremism. He also briefed the Russian counterpart about the human rights situation in Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

Describing the visit of Russian Foreign Minister an important one, he said it is taking place after almost a decade. He noted this visit will further deepen bilateral relationship and friendship and we intend to maintain this momentum and high level contacts.