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Imran, Putin discuss bilateral affairs, Ukraine, Islamophobia and other issues

MOSCOW: Prime Minister Imran Khan and Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday held a one-on-one meeting in Moscow with a wide-ranging agenda in focus relating to bilateral matters and regional developments.

The two leaders reviewed the entire array of bilateral relations including economic and energy cooperation, particularly the Pakistan Stream gas pipeline.

Prime Minister Imran khan arrives at the tomb of Unknown Soldier to lay floral wreath. Moscow, 24th February, 2022.

The regional situation including the developing scenario of Ukraine also came under discussion.

PM Imran Khan, earlier on his arrival at Kremlin – the executive headquarters of the Russian Federation, was warmly received by President Putin.

This is the first bilateral visit by a Pakistani prime minister to Russia after a gap of 23 years and is being termed as a historic step to renew relations between the two countries.

Prime Minister Imran Khan and Russian President Vladimir Putin shaking hands before their meeting in Moscow on 24th February, 2022.

On the invitation of President Putin, Prime Minister Imran Khan arrived in the Russian capital Wednesday on a two-day visit where he was given a guard of honour at the airport.

The prime minister was accompanied by a high-level delegation, including federal ministers Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Chaudhry Fawad Hussain, Asad Umar and Hammad Azhar, Commerce Advisor Abdur Razzak Dawood, National Security Advisor Moeed Yusuf and Member of the National Assembly Amir Mahmood Kiyani. 

Prime Minister Imran Khan meets Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on 24th February, 2022.

PM Imran exchanged views on Ukraine, international and regional issues during his meeting with Putin. The two leaders discussed bilateral relations, especially cooperation in the energy sector. Matters pertaining to Islamophobia and the situation in Afghanistan came under discussion.

Before the meeting, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, who is part of PM Imran’s delegation in Moscow, confirmed that the premier was on his way to meet President Putin, debunking “speculation” regarding the premier’s visit being cut short amid Ukraine-Russia tensions.

Prime Minister Imran khan laying a floral wreath at the tomb of Unknown Soldier in Moscow, 24th February, 2022.

Sharing the update on Twitter, Chaudhry said after the meeting between both leaders, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Valentinovich Novak would call on PM Imran and the delegation accompanying him at the hotel where they are staying.

In a tweet, the information minister said the premier’s “visit is proceeding and PM will return to Pakistan tonight as per schedule”.

Chaudhry’s clarification came after a report by Associated Press claimed that the prime minister was ending his Moscow trip.

Prime Minister Imran khan laying a floral wreath at the tomb of Unknown Soldier in Moscow, 24th February, 2022.

Earlier today (Thursday), PM Imran laid a floral wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Moscow in a tribute to the casualties of World War II.

PM Imran arrived in Moscow yesterday on a two-day official visit, where he was greeted by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov upon his arrival. He was also presented a guard of honour.

Qureshi meets Lavrov

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi met his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Moscow as both the leaders reaffirmed their commitment to further strengthen bilateral relations between the two countries, according to a statement from the Foreign Office.

Qureshi said Pakistan attaches special importance to bilateral relations with Russia. He said relations between Pakistan and Russia have gradually strengthened.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi along with other officials hold a meeting with his Russian counterpart in Moscow on Thursday. — Picture via Foreign Office

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi along with other officials hold a meeting with his Russian counterpart in Moscow on Thursday

“Pakistan pursues economic priorities and promotes regional ties in the light of PM Imran Khan’s vision,” Qureshi told his Russian counterpart.

Lavrov congratulated Qureshi and Pakistani leadership on the success of the OIC’s Council of Foreign Ministers on Afghanistan held in Islamabad in December last year and also expressed best wishes regarding the upcoming meeting of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers in Islamabad next month.

The last Pakistani premier to visit Russia was Nawaz Sharif in March 1999, while former president Asif Ali Zardari came to Moscow in 2011.

PM Imran’s visit is viewed by many in and outside Pakistan with much anticipation though the Pakistan government terms it a prelude to greater relationship in strategic, energy and regional connectivity.

The timing of the visit has been discussed threadbare but top Pakistani government officials term it one of the rarest opportunities for the energy-starved country to make headway in energy, regional connectivity and role in Afghanistan post US withdrawal.

National Security Adviser Moeed Yusuf, however, had rejected the notion about the timing of the visit. “Yes there is a global tension but our visit is of bilateral nature and the similar path was taken in the visit to China where economy, economic indicators and connectivity was at the heart of that tour,” he had said.