Afghanistan tops agenda of Russia-Pakistan talks in Islamabad

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Islamabad, Pakistan – Russian international minister Sergey Lavrov has met together with his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi within the Pakistani capital Islamabad, with each international locations reaffirming their assist for the Afghan peace course of and expressing concern on the violence in that nation.

Lavrov met Qureshi on the Pakistani international ministry for delegation-level talks on Wednesday, and also will maintain conferences with Prime Minister Imran Khan, military chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and different prime officers.

“We are also concerned by the deterioration of the situation in the area of security in Afghanistan and by the rise in terrorist activities and march of ISIL in the north and east of the country,” mentioned Lavrov after his talks with Qureshi.

“We agreed that we need to further facilitate the contradictory and hostile parties [in Afghanistan] for them to reach an agreement and put an end to a civil war based on inclusive dialogue.”

GettyImages 1232145160Lavrov, second from left, and Qureshi on the Islamabad airport [Getty Images]

Qureshi mentioned the 2 sides have seen “good cooperation” on their Afghan insurance policies.

“We also discussed the successful ‘expanded troika’ meeting [held in Moscow on March 18], the possibility of another Moscow meeting and instructed our envoys to stay in close contact to remain in touch and to coordinate their positions,” he mentioned.

Earlier, a Russian assertion mentioned the nation was trying “forward to an early finding of a constructive solution in order to end the civil war in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan through agreements on the formation of an inclusive government with the participation of the Taliban movement”.

In an interview to a Pakistani newspaper printed on Wednesday, Lavrov mentioned Russia and Pakistan shared a “concurrence or similarity of approaches” to regional issues, together with the state of affairs in Afghanistan.

Lavrov’s go to to Pakistan comes as a May 1 deadline for the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan looms massive. Agreed in a peace settlement signed between Washington and the Taliban, the withdrawal is trying more and more unlikely given the rise in violence in Afghanistan.

Direct peace talks between the Afghan authorities and the Taliban commenced final 12 months within the Qatari capital Doha, however progress has been sluggish and violence has spiked whilst negotiators proceed discussions.

Russia held a one-day assembly of the “extended troika” on March 18, internet hosting members of the Taliban and the Afghan authorities, in addition to Pakistani, Chinese and US representatives, in an effort to spur the peace course of.

Warming of ties

The two international locations additionally mentioned navy cooperation, with Russia providing new {hardware} to the Pakistani navy.

“We have confirmed that we stand ready to strengthen the anti-terrorist potential of Pakistan, including by supplying Pakistan with special military equipment,” mentioned Lavrov. “This serves interests of all states of the region.”

Lavrov’s go to to Pakistan is the primary by a Russian international minister in 9 years and marks the current warming of ties between the 2 international locations.

Pakistan has been an energetic participant in Russian-led Eurasian initiatives such because the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) since 2017.

Increasing bilateral commerce may also be excessive on the agenda, each international locations’ international ministries mentioned.

In the final fiscal 12 months, commerce between the international locations stood at almost $350m, up 45 % from the 12 months earlier than, in accordance with Pakistani central financial institution knowledge.

The two international locations have additionally been concerned in main infrastructure initiatives, with Russia setting up a serious gasoline pipeline alongside the size of Pakistan.

On Wednesday, nevertheless, the Russian international minister referenced bilateral commerce of “$790m”, a rise he mentioned was pushed by Russian exports of wheat to Pakistan.

The assembly was the third between the 2 international ministers after they met on the sidelines of the SCO summit in Kyrgyzstan in June 2019, and once more at an SCO assembly in Moscow in September final 12 months.

2021 04 07T062459Z 1077884135 RC2UQM9VEYZR RTRMADP 3 PAKISTAN RUSSIA LAVROVRussia’s international minister Sergey Lavrov, left, and Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi throughout a gathering in Islamabad [Reuters]

“Over the recent past, deepening collaboration in economic, trade and energy sectors has been the focus of the two governments,” mentioned a Pakistani international ministry assertion.

The two international locations reaffirmed their dedication to a serious gasoline pipeline challenge to hyperlink the southern Pakistani metropolis of Karachi, the nation’s largest, to the jap metropolis of Lahore.

The challenge, agreements on which had been signed in 2015, has been stalled since then, however Qureshi mentioned talks on Wednesday had eliminated a number of obstacles.

“We have overcome many of the impediments and I am reassured that we have received their response to some of the amendments to the intergovernmental agreement [of 2015] … and I reassure the foreign minister that Pakistan … wants to go ahead with [this project],” mentioned Qureshi.

On coronavirus vaccines, Lavrov mentioned Russia had already offered 50,000 doses of the Russia-developed Sputnik V vaccine to Pakistan, and that it was to offer an extra 150,000 doses “soon”.

The two international locations additionally mentioned the potential of signing agreements on native manufacturing of the Sputnik V vaccine in Pakistan to assist meet the demand within the nation of 220 million individuals.

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