Islamabad, Feb 24 (EFE).- Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has decided to continue his visit to Moscow as per original schedule, the country’s foreign ministry said Thursday, hours after Russia announced a “military operation” in Ukraine.
Fighting is underway in several parts of Ukraine with Russia attacking many of its cities, while several countries, including the United States and its allies, have condemned Moscow’s aggression and announced sanctions.
“As per the information we have so far, the visit (of Prime Minister) is on,” Asim Iftikhar, a spokesperson of the foreign ministry at Islamabad, who asked not to be named, told EFE.
As a part of his visit, Prime Minister Khan, accompanied by his cabinet ministers and some Russian officials, paid homage with floral offerings to the tomb of unmarked soldiers of the Second World War in Moscow, according to a live telecast of the event in Pakistan on Thursday.
After the ceremony, Khan refused to respond to questions from the media. He is expected to hold delegation-level talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the day.
Khan is the first Pakistani prime minister to go on an official visit Moscow in 23 years, after Nawaz Sharif in 1999.
“Bilateral summit will be the highlight of the visit,” the Asian country’s foreign ministry said in an earlier statement, which underlined that “the two leaders will review the entire array of bilateral relations including energy cooperation.”
Both the leaders will also discuss wide-ranging issues on major regional and international matters, including Islamophobia and the situation in Afghanistan, it said.
Political and defense analyst Talat Masood of Pakistan said Khan’s visit was a sign of its increased tilt towards Russia as against the United States, and a decision to cut short the visit would “defeat the very purpose of having good relations with Russia.”
“The visit was in the pipeline for some time and Imran Khan did not know that the war was going to happen,” Masood told EFE, adding that the war breaking out during the visit was “just an unhappy coincidence.”
“Pakistan has strategic relations with China. It has developed reasonably good relations with Russia over the years which are improving,” Masood concluded. EFE