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Pakistan-Russia agreed to explore new avenues for bilateral cooperation

03 March, 2018

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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Russia on Friday agreed to explore new avenues for bilateral cooperation to enhance the “existing positive momentum in ties”. “Both sides agreed on the need to further capitalise on the positive trajectory of the overall bilateral relations by exploring avenues for mutually beneficial bilateral cooperation,” Foreign Office said after the 12th meeting of Pakistan-Russia Consul­tative Group on Strategic Stability.

The platform that provides for structured dialogue between the two countries has existed since 2003. The meeting was held at the level of senior officials.

The Pakistani side was led by Special Secretary Amb Tasnim Aslam, whereas the Russian side was led by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov.

“The two sides had an in-depth exchange of views on the regional and global developments, including with respect to arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation,” the FO said.

Ties between Moscow and Islamabad have been improving for years now and the two have taken great strides since 2007, when the ties were renewed after a long estrangement during the cold war.

Pakistan and Russia in 2014 signed a defence cooperation accord and in 2015 they inked a technical cooperation accord providing for arms supplies and cooperation in weapon development.

During Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif’s visit to Moscow last month, the two sides agreed to form a military commission to enhance their defence cooperation.

Despite the upswing in ties, the two countries have moved very tentatively on nuclear cooperation. Mos­cow, for instance, is backing India’s bid for membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group. However, it is not blocking Pakistan’s candidature. Moreover, it’s not ready to discuss the prospects of nuclear cooperation.

Trade and economic cooperation is another area where the two countries have been lagging behind.

Russia has particularly been interested in cooperation in the energy sector and has been pressing Islamabad to implement the agreements reached in the inter-governmental commission.

The Foreign Office maintained that the two sides enjoyed commonality of approach and convergence on a range of contemporary issues. The evolving geostrategic landscape and more specifically India’s growing closeness with the US and the lingering conflict in Afghanistan have been major contributors to promoting convergence bet­ween the two sides.

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