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Russia backs Pak stance on drones

05 October, 2012

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ISLAMABAD: Opposing drone strikes in Pakistan, Russia said on Thursday that violation of sovereignty and territorial integrity of any state was unacceptable.

Addressing a joint press conference with Hina Rabbani Khar, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, "It is not right to violate the sovereignty and integrity of any state. We fully support Pakistan's stance," he said.

Lavrov said Russia also supported Pakistan's stance on Afghanistan and added that there should be national reconciliation and the process should be driven by Afghans themselves for durable peace and stability in Afghanistan. He said the two countries had detailed discussions on bilateral relations both at economic and political level."We are longing for better ties with Pakistan," he said.

About postponement of the visit of President Putin to Pakistan‚ he said the Russian President had already conveyed to President Zardari that he was unable to visit Pakistan due to tough schedule.

"He has also expressed his desire to have meeting between the two Presidents at the earliest," he said.

On Afghanistan‚ he said any Afghan solution imposed from outside would not work. He said there should be national reconciliation and the process should be driven by Afghans themselves.To a question he said Russia was encouraged by confidence-building measures between Pakistan and India. He said the two countries were capable of resolving their problems.

The Russian foreign minister said his country supported President Zardari's proposed conference on drugs trafficking. He said Moscow also supported Pakistan's efforts to address the challenge of terrorism.Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, speaking on the occasion, said both the countries expressed desire for boosting bilateral relations.

"This is the millennium of relations with Russia," she said and added that President Zardari's last year visit to Moscow played a great role in improving relations between both the countries. She said Pakistan and Russia were hoping that President Putin would soon visit Islamabad.

She said Pakistan was forging its foreign policy in accordance with the guidelines of the parliament and there was a broad national consensus in Pakistan on further strengthening and improving relations with the Russian Federation. She said both countries were renewing their ties now.Khar said both the countries had shared interests in Afghanistan.

"We discussed situation in Afghanistan, bilateral relations and economic and political issues." She said Russia and Pakistan could cope with the international challenges jointly. She hoped the projects started with Russian collaboration would continue in the next century too.

Hina pointed out that two countries had signed three MoUs on expansion and modernisation of Pakistan Steel Mills‚ cooperation in railway sector and in the field of energy. She said the two foreign ministers agreed that it would be a useful opportunity for presidents of both the countries to meet shortly.

Hina said the political leadership of the two countries had the commitment and resolve to strengthen bilateral ties. She said the two countries had an extensive review of the scope of cooperation within the economic framework. Hina hoped that in the next few months the two sides would move beyond MoUs and go to specific projects within these areas. She said there was convergence of views between the two countries on issues of regional and international importance.

To a question, Hina said drone attacks were not only counterproductive but also illegal and unlawful. She said there was need to find ways and means to counter terrorism within the legal means. Hina, clarifying her remarks made in the United States about drone strikes‚ said if the objective is to end terrorism Pakistan supported objective but ways and means to achieve this objective must be legal and lawful and must not be counter-productive.

Both the foreign ministers insisted the ties between their countries were strengthening. They also discussed the conflicts in Afghanistan and Syria, as well as other crises in the Middle East and North Africa. The Russian foreign minister also expressed dismay over the violence at the Syrian-Turkish border. Syria has promised to investigate the matter and "assured us such incidents will not happen in the future," he said. Lavrov said the two countries agreed on increasing cooperation in several areas, including the political and economic sectors.

During meeting with the Russian foreign minister, Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf said that with good progress in relationship between Pakistan and Russian Federation over the years, there is consensus in Pakistan that our relations with Moscow should be further strengthened.

Russia is very important because of its linkages with Europe and Asia, he added. Ashraf said he was happy to note that both the Pakistani and Russian foreign ministers have had good discussion during their meeting on Thursday.

Referring to a recent visit of high-powered Russian delegation which signed a number of Memoranda of Understanding with Pakistan on energy, railway and steel sectors, the PM said Pakistan Steel Mills, a symbol of the friendship of Pakistan and Russia in the 20th century, will now serve as a bridge to further intensify relations between the two countries in the 21st century.He said Pakistan and Russia have convergence on many regional and international issues including Afghanistan, Syria and the Security Council as well as the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).

Ashraf said Pakistan seeks to increase economic relations and benefit from the expertise of Russian Federation, especially in the energy sector where Russia has experience in coal mining and generation of coal power plants.

End.

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