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In his first interview to Russian media since taking office, Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that he is looking forward to meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).
Khan sat down with Sputnik for an exclusive interview and shared his expectations for his meeting with President Putin, commented on relations with India, sanctions on Iran and the situation in Afghanistan.
Pakistani media has reported that Russian President Vladimir Putin and Pakistani PM Imran Khan will be meeting at the sidelines of Bishkek Summit.
The news agency reported that both leaders are expected to hold an informal meeting on the sidelines of the summit and it will be their first bilateral meeting. Earlier this year, Pakistan could not convince Russia for a bilateral meeting between Putin and PM Imran on the sidelines of the Belt and Road Forum held in Beijing.
“I hope to meet the Russian leadership in this conference in Bishkek, the SCO meeting this coming week. So I hope to meet President Putin … I think this will just be an informal meeting on the sides of the SCO conference. I already met him briefly during my visit to China, where there was a conference by Chinese President Xi [Jinping]. So I met him, but this time I hope to have an informal chat with him,” PM Imran told Russia’s Sputnik.
PM Imran is scheduled to attend a meeting of the SCO in Kyrgyzstan from June 13 to 14. While both Islamabad and Moscow know little about the other’s business potential, the media reported, there is a keenness in Russia to develop ties with Pakistan.
The news agency reported that both leaders are expected to hold an informal meeting on the sidelines of the summit and it will be their first bilateral meeting.
In his address at a seminar in May, Russian Embassy Counsellor Dr Sergei Baranov had said that Pakistan is an important partner for Russia with its significance determined by its role in regional politics, its influence in the Muslim world and its geostrategic position.
In March, it was reported, Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua and Russian envoy Alexey Dedov had expressed optimism about the future of Pak-Russia bilateral relationship.
Meeting between Putin and Imran Khan?
Pakistani media has reported that Russian President Vladimir Putin and Pakistani PM Imran Khan will be meeting at the sidelines of Bishkek Summit. If this meeting transpired, it will be the first meeting between the two leaders.
Another diplomatic development. Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan is Going to Meet Russian President Putin at SCO Summit on 14th June 2019. Maintaining healthy relationships with all key players of regional & international politics is our vision. pic.twitter.com/GemCudw7FP
— PTI (@PTIofficial) June 9, 2019
Putin was expected in Pakistan during the PPP government but then his visit was canceled in the last minute; for reasons not clear to this day. No Pakistani leader has met Putin since the Musharraf-Putin meeting in Moscow.
More from Sputnik Interview
To the question, if is it possible that Russia and Pakistan will get no visa regime, PM Khan said “Pakistan is going in this direction. Seventy countries will now be able to get a visa at the airport. Previously we did not have this agreement with anyone, but now we are opening up Pakistan for tourism, for investment, and we feel that we want to make it easier for countries to come and get a visa.
There are seventy countries — and Russia is included in those countries who can come, the Russian can come and get a visa at the airport.” To a question, Khan said that most of the 50s, 60s, and 70s were spent in the Cold War region, where India was close to the Soviet Union, and Pakistan was close to the United States.
He said Pakistan was in different camps but now things have changed. “India is also friendly with the United States, and Pakistan is also friendly with the US. So we no longer have the Cold War situation. It is refreshing that we have developed our contacts with Russia, and they are developing all the time,” he said.
Full text of PM Khan’s interview is available here.