Russia to boost ties with Pakistan, supply military gear

In this handout photo released by Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, and Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi pose for a photo prior to their talks in Islamabad, Pakistan, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. (Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service via AP)
In this handout photo released by Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, and Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi pose for a photo prior to their talks in Islamabad, Pakistan, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. (Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service via AP)

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Russia’s foreign minister says Moscow and Islamabad will boost ties in the fight against terrorism

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Russia’s foreign minister on Wednesday said Moscow and Islamabad will boost ties in the fight against terrorism, with Russia providing unspecified military equipment to Pakistan and the two holding joint exercises at sea and in the mountains.

Sergey Lavrov spoke on the second day of a two-day trip to Pakistan. It’s the first visit by a Russian foreign minister in nine years, part of a warming of frosty relations. It comes as Moscow seeks to increase its stature in the region, particularly in Afghanistan, where it seeks to inject itself as a key player in efforts to find a peaceful end to decades of war.

“We stand ready to strengthen the anti-terrorist potential of Pakistan, including by supplying Pakistan with special military equipment,” Lavrov said, without going into detail about the equipment.

Washington is reviewing an agreement it signed more than a year ago with the Taliban as it rethinks a May 1 withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. Meanwhile, Moscow has stepped up its involvement there and hosted talks last month between the Taliban and senior Afghan government officials. Lavrov suggested another high-level meeting could again be held in Moscow.

Lavrov arrived in Pakistan on Tuesday from neighboring India, with which Moscow has had a long and solid relationship. The apparent reset in Pakistani-Russian relations, however, is by contrast a more recent phenomena.

Pakistan was a staging arena in the 1980s for anti-communist Afghan rebels aided by the U.S. to oust the Soviet Union, which in 1989 negotiated an end to its 10-year occupation of Afghanistan.

A statement from the Pakistani military after Lavrov's talks with Pakistan's army chief, Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, said they discussed “enhanced defense and security cooperation, regional security, particularly the Afghan peace process.”

Bajwa also reportedly told Lavrov that Pakistan wants regional cooperation, though he did not mention Pakistan's uneasy relationship with neighbor India. Earlier this year the nuclear-armed neighbors renewed their commitment to a cease- fire along their troubled border which separates the disputed Kashmir territory.

Meanwhile Russia is also building a gas pipeline between the southern port city of Karachi and eastern Lahore. Pakistan's Foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said Islamabad will also buy 5 million doses of the Russian made COVID-19 Sputnik V vaccine, and expressed a desire to eventually manufacture it in Pakistan. He said Pakistan also wanted Russian expertise to modernize its antiquated railway system as well as its energy sector.

Lavrov also held meetings with Prime Minister Imran Khan.

The visit underlines the waning influence of the United States in the region, while Russian and Chinese clout grows, says Michael Kugelman, Deputy Director of the Asia Program at the U.S.-based Wilson Center.

“There’s a good reason why this is the first Russian foreign minister visit to Islamabad for nearly a decade: Russia-Pakistan relations are on the ascent,” he said in an interview. He also noted a new 25-year development agreement between Iran and China.

Pakistan also is a key player in China's Belt and Road Initiative — a massive, cross-continental infrastructure development project aimed at expanding China’s commercial connections globally.

“America will soon be ceding important real estate to its top rivals,” said Kugelman. “That’s the cost of an impending U.S. withdrawal from the region. But with the U.S. intent on pulling back, it is seemingly a cost it is willing to bear."

In this handout photo released by Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov attends the talks with Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in Islamabad, Pakistan, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. (Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service via AP)
In this handout photo released by Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov attends the talks with Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in Islamabad, Pakistan, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. (Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service via AP)

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In this photo released by Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, and Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi walk during their meeting in Islamabad, Pakistan, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. (Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service via AP)
In this photo released by Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, and Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi walk during their meeting in Islamabad, Pakistan, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. (Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service via AP)

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In this handout photo released by Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi gestures during his and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov joint news conference following their talks in Islamabad, Pakistan, Wednesday April 7, 2021. (Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service via AP)
In this handout photo released by Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi gestures during his and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov joint news conference following their talks in Islamabad, Pakistan, Wednesday April 7, 2021. (Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service via AP)

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In this photo released by Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, center, and Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, left, plant a tree during their meeting in Islamabad, Pakistan, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. (Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service via AP)
In this photo released by Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, center, and Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, left, plant a tree during their meeting in Islamabad, Pakistan, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. (Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service via AP)

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In this handout photo released by Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, and Pakistan's Army Chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa during their talks in Islamabad, Pakistan, in Islamabad, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. (Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service via AP)
In this handout photo released by Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, and Pakistan's Army Chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa during their talks in Islamabad, Pakistan, in Islamabad, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. (Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service via AP)

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In this handout photo released by Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, and Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi attend a joint news conference following their talks in Islamabad, Pakistan, Wednesday April 7, 2021. (Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service via AP)
In this handout photo released by Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, and Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi attend a joint news conference following their talks in Islamabad, Pakistan, Wednesday April 7, 2021. (Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service via AP)

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In this handout photo released by Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service, Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation on Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov attends the talks between Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in Islamabad, Pakistan, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. (Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service via AP)
In this handout photo released by Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service, Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation on Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov attends the talks between Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in Islamabad, Pakistan, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. (Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service via AP)

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In this handout photo released by Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service, Pakistan's Army Chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa gestures during his talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Islamabad, Pakistan, in Islamabad, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. (Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service via AP)
In this handout photo released by Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service, Pakistan's Army Chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa gestures during his talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Islamabad, Pakistan, in Islamabad, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. (Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service via AP)

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In this photo handout photo released by Pakistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, bumps elbows with his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi prior their meeting, in Islamabad, Pakistan, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. Russia's foreign minister is in Pakistan for a two-day visit expected to focus on efforts to bring peace to neighboring Afghanistan. Lavrov's visit comes as a May 1 deadline for U.S. troops to leave Afghanistan in line with a deal Washington signed a year ago with the Taliban seems increasingly unlikely. (Pakistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs via AP)
In this photo handout photo released by Pakistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, bumps elbows with his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi prior their meeting, in Islamabad, Pakistan, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. Russia's foreign minister is in Pakistan for a two-day visit expected to focus on efforts to bring peace to neighboring Afghanistan. Lavrov's visit comes as a May 1 deadline for U.S. troops to leave Afghanistan in line with a deal Washington signed a year ago with the Taliban seems increasingly unlikely. (Pakistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs via AP)

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In this handout photo released by Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, listens to Pakistan's Army Chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa during their meeting in Islamabad, Pakistan, in Islamabad, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. (Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service via AP)
In this handout photo released by Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, listens to Pakistan's Army Chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa during their meeting in Islamabad, Pakistan, in Islamabad, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. (Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service via AP)

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In this photo released by Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, and Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi talk during their meeting in Islamabad, Pakistan, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. (Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service via AP)
In this photo released by Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, and Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi talk during their meeting in Islamabad, Pakistan, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. (Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service via AP)

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In this handout photo released by Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov speaks to the media during his and Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi joint news conference following their talks in Islamabad, Pakistan, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. (Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service via AP)
In this handout photo released by Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov speaks to the media during his and Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi joint news conference following their talks in Islamabad, Pakistan, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. (Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service via AP)

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