- Agreement will pave way for exchange of views and information, as well as issues related to strengthening of mutual trust and international security, counter-terrorism and arms control activities
- Sharif tells visiting Russian defence minister Islamabad keen to enhance ties with Moscow
Pakistan and Russia signed a “milestone” military cooperation pact on Thursday aimed at bringing peace and stability in the region.
The agreement was signed during a meeting by Russian Defence Minister General Sergei Shoigu, who is on a day-long official visit to Pakistan, with his Pakistani counterpart Khawaja Asif.
“The signing of the military cooperation agreement between the two significant countries of the region is a milestone,” Asif said after the signing ceremony.
“Both sides will translate this relationship in tangible terms and further strengthen military to military relations,” Asif added.
The pair expressed hope that the agreement will pave the way for exchange of views and information, as well as issues related to strengthening of mutual trust and international security, counter-terrorism and arms control activities.
“The first ever visit of the defence minister from Russian Federation has come at a very critical juncture when US-led NATO forces are drawing down from Afghanistan by the end of 2014,” a statement by the Defence Ministry said.
“Apart from promoting bilateral defence relations, the visit will enable both countries to join hands in bringing peace and stability in the region,” it added.
Russia has long been the largest supplier of arms to India, the nuclear-armed arch rival of Pakistan, which is the world’s top arms buyer.
The country’s ITAR-TASS news agency reported in June that Russia had lifted its embargo on arms supplies to Pakistan and was holding talks on supplying Islamabad with combat helicopters.
Shoigu, who is accompanied by a 41-member high level delegation, commended the skill and expertise of Pakistani armed forces in fighting the war against terrorism, the Pakistani defence ministry said.
“The world community not only praises but wants to do business with Pakistan now,” it quoted Shoigu as saying.
SHARIF RUSSIA TIES:
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said that Pakistan is keen to enhance its multi-dimensional relations with Moscow, including defence.
Speaking to Gen Shoygu, who met him at Prime Minister’s House, Sharif said that it was heartening to see that relations between Pakistan and Russian Federation have grown in the past few years.
The prime minister stressed upon the need to increase bilateral trade between the two countries which currently stands at $542 million and does not correspond to their trade potential.
He invited Russian companies to invest in Pakistan, particularly in the energy sector and benefit from the business friendly policies of his government.
The premier lauded Russia’s support to become full member of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and said that Pakistan was ready to further enhance cooperation with other countries of the region, through this forum to counter the dual challenges of terrorism and drug trafficking.