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ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi confirmed on Monday that Prime Minister Imran Khan will visit Russia later this month on the invitation of President Vladimir Putin – to be happening after the gap of 23 years by any Pakistani prime minister to visit Russia.

The foreign minister stated this in a statement, in which, he stated that there has been a positive trajectory in Pakistan’s relations with Russia, adding that Russian President Putin has invited Prime Minister Khan to visit Moscow and he will undertake the visit later this month.

Although, Qureshi did not mention the dates, sources said that the prime minister will pay a two-day visit to Russia on February 23-24, 2022, where he would hold important consultations with Russian President Putin on further enhancing bilateral ties in various areas of mutual interest, including defence, trade and investment, energy cooperation, and the Pakistan Stream Gas Pipeline (PSGP) project.

They said that the talks would also cover situation in Afghanistan where the two sides have identical position with regard to addressing the humanitarian crisis as well as the issue of terrorism.

Earlier, the then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was the country’s last premier who visited Russia in March 1999. In his statement, Qureshi stated that Pakistan’s relations with Russia have grown steadily, adding that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov visited Pakistan in April last year. The foreign minister said that he also visited Russia on the invitation by his Russian counterpart and held discussions on bilateral relations as well as regional situation.

Referring to Prime Minister Khan’s recent visit to China, he said that it was a very useful and timely visit by the prime minister during which comprehensive meetings were held with the Chinese leadership. During the meetings, the two sides held detailed discussions on bilateral cooperation and regional situation, including Afghanistan.

He said that the two countries are committed for early completion of the second phase projects of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). “The spoilers do not want to see CPEC progressing, they will never succeed in their designs,” he said, adding that the miscreants targeted the Chinese engineers working on CPEC projects so that to create chaos.

He said that the two sides consider the CPEC as very crucial for the prosperity and development of the region. He said that Pakistan also desires to increase the access of our agricultural commodities to Chinese markets, adding, “We want China to buy surplus agricultural commodities from Pakistan to improve our trade balance,” he added.

About Afghanistan, Qureshi said that the two sides decided that a meeting of the neighboring countries of Afghanistan will be convened in Beijing by the end of the next month to discuss the future strategy. He said the interim foreign minister of Afghan government will also be invited to the meeting.

About India’s role, the foreign minister said that he had presented a dossier to the international community, including the United Nations and the Security Council, having concrete evidence to expose India’s intentions.

“The international community should take note of India’s nefarious designs in light of the irrefutable evidence in the dossier for the sake of peace and stability in the region,” he said, adding that negative policies of the BJP government are not even in India’s own interest.

He added that Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has stated on the floor of the Lok Sabha that the Indian government through its poor policy has brought Pakistan and China closer together than ever before.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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