ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov on Wednesday agreed to further promote bilateral cooperation in the field of economy, trade, security, including counter-terrorism and defence.
Lavrov, the first Russian foreign minister to visit Pakistan since 2012, and Qureshi held delegation-level talks with Qureshi to review the bilateral relationship as well as the situation in war-torn Afghanistan.
"During our talks we considered ideas to further promote #EconomicDiplomacy and discussed progress in the area of energy cooperation including the Pakistan-Stream Gas Pipeline project. We reviewed our cooperation in the field of security including counter-terrorism and defence," Qureshi said in a series of tweets after the meeting.
He said the two sides agreed on the need to promote greater people-to-people contact through greater collaboration across a diversity of fields, including education.
"We will also be enhancing our cooperation within the framework of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation," he said. We are confident that this visit will give further momentum to our deepening friendship and we remain committed to expanding our relations in diverse areas through further high-level contacts," he added.
Qureshi also said that Pakistan and Russia "share convergent positions on several issues on multilateral agenda including peace and stability in Afghanistan". Addressing a joint press conference later, Qureshi said Pakistan was keen to build a strong multifaceted relationship with Russia.
"There is a new approach and mindset in Pakistan for a relationship with Russia. We feel that not just we have geographic proximity but Russia is a factor of stability in the region and the world at large," he said, adding that Pakistan wants to build a relationship of trust with Russia.
On his part, Lavrov said that Russia was ready to further build counter-terrorism potential through provision of military equipment. "This is in the interest of all states of the region," he said, adding that both the sides have agreed to further conduct military exercises and drills.
He said Russia was committed to promote bilateral cooperation with Pakistan in diverse fields including economy, trade and defence. He expressed satisfaction over the 46 per cent increase in bilateral trade but said "there is need to further diversify it".
Discussing the opportunities in the energy sector, Lavrov said both the countries are now discussing a new protocol on the Stream Gas Pipeline project and as soon as it is signed, the construction work on the project will start.
Expressing concern over the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan, Lavrov said Pakistan and Russia have agreed to further facilitate the parties to reach an agreement to put an end to civil war through an inclusive political dialogue.
"We have agreed to further contribute to creating conditions to ensure that the conflicting sides achieve constructive solutions, which will allow them to end the civil war in Afghanistan through the agreements on forming inclusive power structures," Lavrov said.
Lavrov also termed the relationship between the two countries mutually beneficial and constructive. "We have provided 50,000 doses of anti-Covid vaccine to Pakistan and intend to provide 150,000 more," he said.
Qureshi said Moscow always advocated primacy of international law and multilateralism and Pakistan also always adhered to these principles.
He said the two sides have agreed to hold the intergovernmental commission meeting this year in Moscow, expressing the confidence that it will lay the foundation for a more meaningful economic relationship between the two countries.
Regarding the Stream Gas Pipeline project, he said Pakistan was committed to the project. "We have overcome many of the obstacles and Pakistan wants to go ahead and is committed to the project," he said.
Qureshi said that Russia also acknowledged Pakistan's successful campaign against terrorism and extremism. He also said that he briefed Lavrov about the situation in Kashmir.
Qureshi earlier tweeted that he was pleased to welcome Foreign Minister Lavrov to the Foreign Office for excellent meetings. "Building multi-dimensional relations with Russia is a key priority for Pakistan and we believe a strong relationship contributes to regional stability and global security," he said.
The relations between Pakistan and Russia have come a long way from the Cold War hostility to current level cooperation and there is hope to further expand it in coming years. Lavrov arrived here from India on Tuesday on a two-day official visit with the objective to deepen cooperation in different fields.