MOSCOW: In a long meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday, Prime Minister Imran Khan regretted the latest Kyiv-Moscow conflict and said that Pakistan had hoped diplomacy could avert a military conflict.
The president and the prime minister's meeting lasted for more than three hours, during which they discussed Islamophobia, Afghanistan, bilateral, regional, and South Asian issues, among other "important matters", the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
PM Imran has departed from Moscow after concluding the visit.
He had arrived in Moscow on a two-day official visit yesterday, where he was received at the airport by Russia's deputy foreign minister and presented with a guard of honour at the airport.
The prime minister, according to a statement from the PM Office, stressed that conflict was not in anyone’s interest and that the developing countries were always hit the hardest economically in case of conflict
"Pakistan believes that disputes should be resolved through dialogue and diplomacy," the prime minister told the Russian president.
Recalling the telephone conversations during the recent months between the two leaders, the prime minister expressed confidence that the positive trajectory of bilateral relations will continue to move forward in the future.
He added that the trust and cordiality marking the relationship would translate into further deepening and broadening of mutual cooperation in diverse fields.
The prime minister reaffirmed the importance of the Pakistan-Stream Gas Pipeline as a flagship economic project between Pakistan and Russia and also discussed cooperation on prospective energy-related projects.
PM Imran Khan underscored Pakistan’s commitment to forging a long-term, multidimensional relationship with Russia.
In the regional context, the prime minister underlined the urgency of addressing the humanitarian crisis and preventing potential economic meltdown in Afghanistan.
The premier reiterated that Pakistan would continue to work with the international community for a stable, peaceful and connected Afghanistan.
In this regard, he underscored the ongoing cooperation and coordination between Pakistan and Russia at various international and regional fora, including the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).
On the situation in South Asia, the prime minister highlighted the serious human rights situation in Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IOJK)
and underscored the imperative of peaceful resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute.
The prime minister also highlighted the developments detrimental to regional peace and stability and stressed the need for measures that would help keep the regional balance.
Expressing concerns on rising trends of extremism and Islamophobia in the world, the prime minister emphasised the need for interfaith harmony and coexistence.
Appreciating President Putin’s understanding of the respect and sensitivities that the Muslims attach to the Holy Prophet (PBUH), the prime minister said that interfaith harmony and respect for all religions was imperative for peace and harmony within and among the societies.
After meeting President Putin, the premier and a delegation met Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Valentinovich Novak and Minister of Energy of the Russian Federation Nikolay Shulginov.
Earlier in the day, PM Imran Khan had laid a floral wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Moscow in a tribute to the casualties of World War II.
Speaking to a Pakistani media outlet, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said Islamabad did not want a halt in its bilateral relations with Russia and wanted to bolster them.
"The prime minister and the Russian president discussed global issues," Chaudhry said, noting that Pakistan will be keeping a balanced and sovereign foreign policy.
"We have close ties with Russia and the United States of America [...] we will not be dictated into severing ties with any nation," the information minister said.
The information minister said Pakistan would keep its interest at the forefront. He added that PM Imran Khan's next tour would be to Europe.
Separately, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov discussed important regional and global issues amid the Moscow-Kyiv crisis.
During the meeting, Pakistan and Russia reaffirmed their commitment to further strengthen bilateral relations, with FM Qureshi assuring his counterpart that Islamabad gives importance to its relationship with Moscow.
"Pakistan attaches special importance to bilateral relations with Russia [...] relations between Pakistan and Russia have gradually strengthened," FM Qureshi said while speaking on the occasion.
The foreign minister said Pakistan is pursuing the agenda of promoting economic priorities and regional ties under the vision of PM Imran Khan.
The two leaders discussed important regional and global issues, including bilateral relations, enhancing cooperation in areas of mutual interest.
Later, Lavrov congratulated FM Qureshi and Pakistani leadership for successfully conducting the extraordinary Organisation of Islamic Cooperation's (OIC) Council of Foreign Ministers session on Afghanistan.
The Russian foreign minister also expressed best wishes regarding the upcoming meeting of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers in Islamabad next month.
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