Pakistan seeks stronger ties with Russia (ADDS VIDEO)

Islamabad, Apr 7 (efe-epa).- Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said Wednesday that his country wants to establish a new relationship with Russia, focusing on trade and security cooperation, during a visit to Islamabad by his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov.

“Pakistan is keen to build a strong, multidimensional relationship with Rusia and it is a priority for us,” Qureshi said in a joint press conference with Lavrov.

The Pakistani minister underlined this was “a new approach, a new mindset” in its relations with Russia, a country he described as “a factor of stability for this region and at the global stage.”

In the 1980s, Pakistan and the erstwhile Soviet Union were on opposing sides during the Afghan-Soviet War, which Moscow lost.

Lavrov, the first Russian foreign prime minister to visit Pakistan since 2012, acknowledged the growing relationship between the two countries.

“We have established a confidential political dialogue including at the high and highest levels,” he said.

During Lavrov’s two-day visit, which began Tuesday, the two sides were to discuss their entire bilateral relationship, according to Qureshi. However, no concrete agreement or initiative has been announced yet.

However, they decided to increase trade, which grew 46 percent to $780 million last year.

Lavrov stated that Russia is ready to sell Pakistan “special military equipment” for counter-terrorism purposes and that they have discussed nuclear energy cooperation.

Moreover, they also discussed Russia’s construction of the North-South gas pipeline, from the southern city of Karachi to Lahore, a project that was approved in 2015 but is yet to materialize.

Lavrov also announced that Moscow will supply Islamabad 150,000 doses of its Sputnik V vaccine against Covid-19, adding to the 50,000 doses already sold privately on Pakistani soil.

Both ministers said that any decision or announcement would be made at the next intergovernmental commission between the two countries held later this year in Moscow.

The peace process in Afghanistan figured in the discussions, after the Afghan government and the Taliban began direct talks in Qatar last year in September with no progress so far.

Russia organized a high-level conference in Moscow last month in the presence of the United States, China and Pakistan concerning the logjam.

Lavrov arrived in Pakistan after a visit to New Delhi. He is also scheduled to travel to Kazakhstan, Iran and Egypt as a part of his official tour. EFE-EPA


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