Pakistan, Russia hold first consultation to discuss regional issues: A sign of growing warmth?

In a significant geo-political development in India's neighbourhood, Pakistan and Russia held their first ever consultations on regional issues in Islamabad on Wednesday, Hindustan Times reported.

"During the consultations, the whole range of regional issues as well as key areas of mutual interest including economic cooperation and connectivity were discussed. The two sides also exchanged views on important global and regional developments.It was decided that the next round of Consultations will be convened in Moscow in 2017," the Pakistan Foreign Office statement said.

 Pakistan, Russia hold first consultation to discuss regional issues: A sign of growing warmth?

Representational image. AFP image.

The Pakistan delegation was led by Ahmad Hussain Dayo, Director General (West Asia) while the Russian delegation was headed by Alexander V Sternik, head of the third CIS Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia, the statement added.

The latest meeting comes in the backdrop of growing closeness between the former Cold War rivals in the last few years.

In September 2016, Russian troops, for the very first time, joined their Pakistan counterparts for a joint military exercise named 'Friendship 2016'. The drill took place at a time of growing tensions with India on the Kashmir issue, an RT report noted.

The military exercise was preceded by Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu's visit to Islamabad in November 2014 — the first in the recent past, Dawn reported. According to a report in the same daily, the same year, Moscow also lifted its military embargo on Islamabad, while in August 2015, both countries signed a landmark defence agreement under which Russia sold four Mi-35 attack helicopters to Pakistan.

Last month, the Pakistan Foreign Office said that Russia will host a trilateral meeting involving Pakistan and China to discuss the future of war-torn Afghanistan. "We attach high importance to all initiatives aimed at bringing peace and stability in Afghanistan and the region at large," The Nation quoted foreign ministry spokesman Nafees Zakaria as saying.

In November, Pakistani media reports speculated that Russia might be interested in joining the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project. However, the Russian foreign ministry soon denied the reports.

According to The Times of India, the change in Pakistan's foreign policy stance on Russia began after US special forces hunted down Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad in May 2011. The killing of 24 Pakistani troops by Nato air strikes along the Afghan border also contributed to the growing discord between Islamabad and Washington.

Updated Date: Dec 15, 2016 12:45:56 IST