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Saturday, June 15, 2024

Pakistan’s Khan Russia visit comes amid Ukraine crisis

Although the invitation came before the Ukrainian crisis, PM Khan is visiting Russia when the West is eyeball to eyeball with Russia.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan will fly to Moscow this week to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin, Islamabad confirmed on Monday – the first such trip by a Pakistani leader in two decades.

The two-day visit, starting on Wednesday, was planned before the current crisis over Ukraine.

“During the Summit meeting, the two leaders will review the entire array of bilateral relations including energy cooperation,” Pakistan’s foreign office said in a statement, adding that Khan and Putin will also discuss issues including the situation in Afghanistan.

Relations between Pakistan and Russia were minimal for years as Islamabad sided with the United States in the Cold War and was given Major Non-NATO Ally status by Washington after U.S. forces invaded Afghanistan in 2001.

In recent years, however, relations between the United States and Pakistan have deteriorated and there has been a thawing between Moscow and Islamabad, which has seen the planning of projects in the gas and energy fields.

In an interview published on Monday, Khan played down the timing of the visit, and any effect it would have on Pakistan’s relations with the West.

Read more: Khan to become 1st Pakistani PM in 2 decades to visit Russia

“This visit was planned well before the emergence of the current phase of Ukrainian crisis … I received the invitation from President Putin much earlier,” he told Newsweek Pakistan.

Bilateral Summit will be the highlight of the visit of Prime Minister Khan, who will be accompanied by a high-level delegation including the members of his cabinet.

Pakistan and Russia enjoy friendly relations marked by mutual respect, trust and convergence of views on a range of international and regional issues.

During the Summit meeting, the two leaders will review the entire array of bilateral relations including energy cooperation, Foreign Affairs said in a press release issued here.

They will also have wide-ranging exchange of views on major regional and international issues, including Islamophobia and the situation in Afghanistan.

The visit of the Prime Minister will contribute to further deepening of the multifaceted Pakistan-Russia bilateral relationship and enhancement of mutual cooperation in diverse fields, it added.

Reuters with additional input by GVS News Desk