Pakistan urges restraint on Russia-Ukraine after PMs visit to Moscow

Islamabad, Feb 25 (EFE).- Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Friday urged Russia and Ukraine to exercise restraint to resolve the bilateral crisis, a day after Prime Minister Imran Khan met his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Moscow.

In the unusual encounter, which coincided with Russia’s military operation against Ukraine, Khan presented Pakistan’s stand on the situation, during a work meeting that lasted three hours, said Qureshi, who was part of the delegation.

“The Prime Minister was concerned about the situation in Ukraine and he got the chance to convey Pakistan’s perspective on a right time and place,” the foreign minister said.

He added that Pakistan, which has so far not spoken against the Russian operation, wants the situation to be resolved through diplomacy.

“Even now diplomacy cannot be ruled out, every country should try to stop the situation from further deteriorating by diplomacy,” Qureshi said.

The visit was aimed at boosting bilateral cooperation in all spheres, especially energy and defense, apart from discussing regional security and stability and the Afghan situation.

Although no agreements were signed, Islamabad expressed its interest in purchasing gas from Russia, which is rich in natural resources, through a cross-border pipeline passing through Uzbekistan and Afghanistan.

The two sides also discussed the delayed Pakistan Stream project, also known as the North-South gas pipeline, which is set to be built between the port city of Karachi in southern Pakistan and eastern city of Lahore, in partnership with Russian companies.

Pakistan reiterated its commitment to a multidimensional relationship with Russia.

Islamabad has sought to justify Khan’s meeting with Putin, announced earlier this week, as a pre-decided commitment that he decided to go through with, despite the military escalation with Ukraine.

“We weighed pros and cons then we went on (to visit),” Qureshi said.

Pakistan, like most other countries in South Asia, has avoided condemning Russia’s actions and Qureshi said it has “decided not to be part of any camp politics. (…) What is in the interest of Pakistan will be our priority.”

Russian and Pakistani governments are expected to hold another meeting on Mar. 30-31 in China, for a summit of Afghanistan’s neighbors to discuss the latter’s humanitarian situation due to the devastation caused by war, Islamabad’s diplomatic sources said. EFE


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