Lavrov Arrives In Pak On Rare Visit To Hold Talks With Top Leadership

Islamabad- Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov arrived in Pakistan on Tuesday on a two-day visit during which he will hold important talks with the country's top leadership and the Army chief on bilateral ties as well as on the situation in Afghanistan.

Lavrov, the first Russian foreign minister to visit Pakistan since 2012, was received at the airport by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi.

"Pakistan and Russia share a multi-faceted relationship and we welcome FM Lavrov's visit in line w/ our mutual commitment to further strengthen our bilateral ties, deepening our growing bonds of cooperation & collaboration," Qureshi tweeted after receiving his Russian counterpart.

During various interactions, the entire gamut of Pakistan-Russia ties and enhancing understanding on mutual areas of interest particularly in the fields of security and defence, energy, counter-terrorism, Afghan peace process, economy and trade will be discussed, the Foreign Office said.

Earlier, Qureshi had said Lavrov's visit will be the first by any Russian Foreign Minister in nine years and that he would personally go to the airport to receive him. Lavrov visited Islamabad in 2012.

"There is no second opinion that Russia is an important country of this region, his visit to Pakistan shows that our bilateral relations are taking a new turn,'' Qureshi said in a video statement.

The two countries want to take forward the North-South Gas pipeline project, which is under discussion for quite some time, he said, adding that the Pakistan Steel Mill was set up in Karachi with the Russian help and there was an opportunity to cooperate to pull it out of the current financial crisis.

Pakistan and Russia are playing a role in the Afghan peace process, Qureshi said. He said Lavrov was coming to Pakistan after visiting India with which Russia enjoys historical ties.

"It can convince India to play a positive role in Afghan peace,'' he said.

Qureshi said he would hold delegation-level talks with the visiting foreign minister who would, later on, meet Prime Minister Imran Khan and Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

The rare visit of the Russian foreign minister is part of the growing interaction and regular high-level exchanges between Pakistan and Russia.

Earlier, Qureshi met Lavrov on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit in Bishkek in June 2019 and the SCO Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) meeting in Moscow in September 2020.

Pakistan's ties with Russia have moved past the bitter Cold War hostilities and the chill in the US-Pakistan relations has further pushed the country towards Russia and China.

Lavrov, who arrived in New Delhi on Monday evening on a nearly 19-hour visit, has held extensive talks with the country's top leadership with a focus on various aspects of bilateral ties and preparations for the annual India-Russia summit.

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