- Qureshi emphasised that the safe return of Pakistani citizens from Ukraine remained the government’s topmost priority
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Saturday held a telephonic conversation with Foreign Minister of Russia Mr. Sergey Lavrov and stressed the need for a diplomatic solution to the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict, a statement issued by the Foreign Office (FO) said.
"Besides bilateral ties, the two Foreign Ministers discussed the regional situation. Recalling his recent visit to Russia as part of the Prime Minister’s delegation, Foreign Minister Qureshi stated that the two sides had held wide-ranging talks on key subjects on bilateral agenda and the region including Afghanistan," the FO said.
Foreign Minister Lavrov conveyed deepest condolences over the loss of life in the terrorist attack on a mosque in Peshawar on 4 March 2022 and stressed Russia’s condemnation of terrorism in all forms. "Foreign Minister Lavrov also conveyed that the Russian side would be following up on the important bilateral matters discussed and that the two sides would continue to work together on promoting shared goals of peace and stability in Afghanistan," the FO quoted him as saying.
Underlining Pakistan’s concern at the latest situation in Ukraine, Foreign Minister Qureshi highlighted that Pakistan had emphasised fundamental principles of the UN Charter, called for de-escalation, and underscored the need for a diplomatic solution in accordance with the relevant multilateral agreements, international law, and provisions of the UN Charter.
According to the FO statement, Foreign Minister Qureshi also apprised the Russian Foreign Minister of his recent phone conversations with the Foreign Ministers of Ukraine, Poland, Romania, and Hungary and with the High Representative of the European Union, in which he had shared Pakistan’s principled position and stressed the importance of finding a solution through dialogue and diplomacy.
"Foreign Minister Qureshi expressed the hope that the talks initiated between Russia and Ukraine would succeed in finding a diplomatic solution," it said.
On his part, Foreign Minister Lavrov shared Russia’s perspective on the situation, referred to the opening of the “humanitarian corridor”, and underlined readiness for the next round of talks with the Ukrainian side.
Foreign Minister Qureshi emphasized that the safe and swift return of Pakistani citizens from Ukraine remained the government’s topmost priority and requested the Russian government’s assistance and facilitation in this regard.
Foreign Minister Lavrov assured of full support on this account.
"The two Ministers agreed to remain in close contact," the statement added.
Earlier this week, the Islamabad-based heads of missions of the European Union countries, Japan, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia Tuesday urged Pakistan to join them in condemning Russia’s actions and to voice support for “upholding the UN Charter and the founding principles of international law in Ukraine”.
“As Heads of Mission to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, we urge Pakistan to join us in condemning Russia’s actions and to voice support for upholding the UN Charter and the founding principles of international law,” reads the statement, released by the European Union Delegation to Pakistan.
It further stated: “As we are writing this, there is war in Europe. We deplore the loss of life and humanitarian suffering as innocent civilians are being targeted and mass exodus of women and children in underway into neighbouring countries from Ukraine, and independent and severing state and member of the United Nations. This is unacceptable in Europe, as it is anywhere in the world.”
Responding to the media statement released by the European delegation, Pakistan's Foreign Office said it had taken up the matter with the ambassadors of the EU countries and conveyed to them the country’s serious concerns over the media release.
“They issued a press release, we saw that and in a subsequent meeting with the group of ambassadors, we expressed our serious concern about that. This is not the way diplomatic practice and I think they [the EU envoys] have realized,” Foreign Office spokesperson Asim Iftikhar said.
“We have engaged and continue to engage on this issue. The issuance of the press release was not acceptable and this is what has been conveyed to them and I think they have acknowledged that maybe this was not [the] right way,” he added.