ISLAMABAD: Russian envoy to Pakistan Alexey Dedov on Wednesday said that the MI-35 helicopter deal with Moscow and Islamabad is "politically approved", Radio Pakistan reported.

In an interview with Radio Pakistan, Dedov said that the Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu will visit Islamabad soon. The report further stated that Alexey Dedov said the deal between Pakistan and Russia will help combat terrorism.

While Dedov said the deal has been "politically approved", further negotiations on details of the political-commercial contract are in progress.

The ambassador also said that Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu has talks with Pakistani counterparts on his agenda, to discuss the sale of defence equipment to Pakistan.

Pakistan’s request for MI-35 helicopters has been on the table since 2009, but Russia had kept the issue pending because of the Indian factor.

India had long been Russia’s ‘exclusive military technical cooperation partner’. However, Moscow has reportedly downgraded that status to ‘preferred partner’ after India diversified its defence procurements and increasingly began relying on Western sources for meeting its hardware requirements. Russia has, meanwhile, reviewed its policy of selling military equipment to Pakistan.

Ambassador Dedov, however, had earlier maintained that there was no ban on selling defence equipment to Pakistan.

MI-35s are multi-purpose military transport helicopters which can be used for combat missions.

The Pakistan government has been saying that it genuinely needed these helicopters for counter-terrorism operations.

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