Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan's First Visit To Russia From Feb 23

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan | Reuters file

Islamabad/Moscow- Prime Minister Imran Khan will visit Russia on February 23-24, diplomatic sources said in Islamabad on Monday, signalling the first visit by a Pakistani premier to Moscow in 23 years.

An official from Pakistan's Foreign Office confirmed that Prime Minister Khan will visit Moscow on February 23-24.

He has been officially invited by Russia and Prime Minister Khan will hold talks on key issues of bilateral interest with top leadership, the official told PTI.

Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Sunday confirmed that preparations for the visit of the Prime Minister Khan were underway, the state-run TASS news agency reported.

"The visit will take place on February 23-24," it quoted a source in diplomatic circles as saying. Khan's visit has not been officially announced by Pakistan and Russia.

The visit, which comes amid heightened Russia-Ukraine tensions, is expected to focus on bilateral ties, particularly economic and trade cooperation.

Progress is also expected on the Pakistan Stream Gas Pipeline project that the Russian company would undertake in Pakistan laying a pipeline from Karachi to Kasur near the Indian border.

A Russian delegation was in Pakistan recently to negotiate toll-free proceedings and tax exemptions in connection with the Pakistan Gas Stream Project.

Khan is also expected to hold a key meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, sources in Pakistan said earlier.

Khan will become the first Pakistani premier to visit Russia in 23 years after former premier Nawaz Sharif travelled to Moscow in 1999.

Though former presidents General Pervez Musharraf, Asif Ali Zardari and former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi visited Russia, none of them was an official trip.

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

In April last year, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov visited Islamabad after a gap of almost nine years. During the visit, he conveyed a message to Pakistani leadership on behalf of President Putin that Moscow was willing to extend all possible help to Islamabad.

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