Russia's foreign minister met the Pakistani prime minister in Islamabad on Wednesday for talks on host of issues including the troubled peace process in Afghanistan and Kashmir.
It is the first time a Russian foreign minister has visited Pakistan in nine years. The visit comes as Afghan peace talks are making little headway, with a deadline looming for the US to withdraw its forces from the war-torn country.
Washington signed an agreement with the Taliban last year allowing it to withdraw its forces in exchange of security guarantees. Fighting between Afghan forces and the Taliban, however, still continues.
Stressing the importance of a negotiated political settlement in Afghanistan, Khan appreciated Russia’s recent efforts in promoting the peace process, said a statement by the Prime Minister's Office.
Russia hosted an international conference on Afghanistan in Moscow last month at which the participants called on the warring sides to reduce violence.
With reference to the situation in Indian-administered Kashmir, Khan shared Islamabad’s perspective on issues of peace and security in South Asia, including the need for peaceful resolution of the long-standing dispute.
The two also discussed “enhanced” bilateral cooperation in the fields of energy, industrial modernization, railways and aviation.
Views were exchanged on the health and economic challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, with Khan underscoring Islamabad’s plans to procure Russian-made Sputnik-V vaccine.
Earlier in the day, Lavrov met his Pakistani counterpart. “(Pakistan and Russia) share convergent positions on several issues ... including peace and stability in Afghanistan,” Shah Mahmoud Qureshi, said on Twitter after the meeting.
The top diplomats also discussed economic relations, energy and counter-terrorism cooperation, and progress on the Pakistan Stream Gas Pipeline, a major gas pipeline project.
Meeting with army chief
Lavrov also called on Pakistan's army chief Gen. Qamar Bajwa. According to a statement by the military's media wing, he acknowledged Pakistan’s sincere efforts for Afghan peace.
He said Pak-Russia relations are on a "positive trajectory" and will continue to develop in multiple domains.
The chief of army staff said Pakistan values its relations with Russia and reciprocates the desire for enhanced bilateral military cooperation.
"Pakistan welcomes all initiatives which can bring peace and stability in Afghanistan as the whole region will benefit from it," he was quoted as saying. "We have no hostile designs towards any country and will keep on working towards a cooperative regional framework based on sovereign equality and mutual progress."
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