“Interested in Seeing relations between India and Pakistan as good neighbourly relations and we would like to see the settlement of existing conflicts, for example, the Kashmir Issue”.
Ahead of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to Russia next week, Moscow has assured that the cooperation between the two countries is not aimed that any “third country”, which means India.
Khan’s visit is the first such bilateral visit by a Pakistani prime minister to Russia in decades.
Though the dates of the visit haven’t been officially announced yet, Pakistan media reports quoting diplomatic sources have confirmed that Khan is expected to visit Moscow from February 23 to 26.
In response to WION’s question at the weekly Russian foreign ministry presser, spokesperson Maria Zakharova said, “I can assure you that the cooperation between Russia and Pakistan is not aimed at any third country. It is aimed at ensuring peace, security and stability in the region.”
She further said that both countries are “seeking to counter international terrorism and we seek to develop international trade”.
In 1999, the then Pakistani PM, Nawaz Sharif, visited Russia. It was followed by the visit of Pervez Musharraf in 2003, and Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari in 2011.
In 2017, former prime minister Shahid Khaqan went to Russia for the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Summit (SCO) in Sochi, which wasn’t a bilateral visit.
The last formal bilateral meeting between both sides was when Sharif and President Vladimir Putin met on the sidelines of the SCO summit in Astana, Kazakhstan in June 2017.
Commenting on the India-Pakistan ties, the Russian spokesperson said that Mosco is “interested in seeing relations between India and Pakistan as good neighbourly relations and we would like to see the settlement of existing conflicts, for example, the Kashmir issue”.
Reiterating the long-standing position of Moscow, she said that all issues between the two countries should be resolved bilaterally under the Shimla and Lahore pacts.
Zakharova also welcomed the continuation of the 2003 ceasefire pact and the “statements by Pakistani leadership on normalising Indo-Pakistan ties.”
Spokesperson Maria brushed aside the view that Moscow doesn’t keep Indian sensitivities in mind in the backdrop of Imran Khan’s visit.
She said, “It is nothing to do with reality. Delhi and Moscow enjoy tight cooperation and recently we had a series of contact despite the pandemic restrictions.”
Russian President Putin visited Delhi in December 2021 for the annual India-Russia summit.
Later this year, PM Modi will be visiting the country as part of the annual summit. Other than that, both countries are engaging under the 2+2 foreign and defence ministers dialogue, the first of which took place last year.
While defence forms one of the main pillars of ties, both sides have been engaging in the economic area, Covid crisis and connectivity.
Internationally, both are members of the BRICS, SCO, RIC grouping.
The Russian foreign ministry spokesperson said, “We understand that our countries bear a huge responsibility for peace and stability in the region and the level of contact we have between our leadership, it attests to the fact that we are indeed taken into account positions of each other.”
Responding to India-Russia engagement on the Afghanistan situation, she said, “We will coordinate our joint steps in national capacity on the international arena when it comes to dealing with the crisis in the country.”
India has been part of the Moscow Format talks on Afghanistan while the Russian NSA attended the Delhi security meet involving NSAs of several countries in the region.
The NSAs meeting in Delhi saw the participation of Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
With inputs from Wion
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by Kashmir Today staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)