Moscow: Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov welcomes Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi during the latter’s visit on Wednesday.—AFP
Moscow: Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov welcomes Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi during the latter’s visit on Wednesday.—AFP

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Wednesday discussed with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov progress on Afghan peace talks and reconciliation process during his visit to Moscow, the last stop of his three-day trip to four countries.

Mr Qureshi was accompanied by Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua and senior officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

This was the first meeting of the foreign ministers of the two countries after the Pakistan-assisted peace talks between the United States and Afghan Taliban in Abu Dhabi last week, while Moscow had last month hosted a summit in order to kick-start direct negotiations between the Afghan government and Taliban. A Pakistani delegation had also attended the peace talks.

Qureshi completes four-nation tour

Before meeting the Russian foreign minister, Mr Qureshi had visited Afghanistan, Iran and China.

According to a tweet by Foreign Office spokesman Dr Mohammad Faisal, the foreign minister met his Russian counterpart in Moscow on Wednesday and discussed with him bilateral and regional situation with pertinent reference to the ongoing Afghan peace process.

Both Russia and Pakistan have been actively trying to revive the peace process in war-torn Afghanistan.

Foreign Minister Lavrov acknowledged Pakistan’s efforts in the Afghan settlement and offered Russia’s support to bring stability to the region.

Both the ministers underscored the need to harmonise various regional approaches for developing a regional consensus on various issues.

It was underlined that being the most important stakeholders, Pakis­tan and Russia had shared interests and concerns in Afghanistan and had the common goal of supporting all efforts to restore peace and stability in the country.

The ministers agreed to continue efforts, including through Moscow Format of Consultations, for supporting reconciliation under an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process.

Last week, Pakistan brokered a meeting between the US and the Taliban in Abu Dhabi in a bid to pave the way for reviving the peace process that has remained stalled since 2015.

The talks were arranged after US President Donald Trump wrote a letter to Prime Minister Imran Khan, seeking Pakistan’s help in the Afghan peace process. The overture came after a patch of tense ties between the US and Pakistan since President Trump last year announced his South Asia strategy accusing Islamabad of not acting against terrorist safe havens.

Mr Qureshi also held detailed talks with Mr Lavrov in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation on various bilateral and regional issues.

He stated that Pakistan greatly valued its relations with the Russian Federation. He also expressed the government of Pakistan’s desire to forge a long-term, multidimensional partnership and friendship with Russia.

Both sides expressed satisfaction over the upward trajectory in bilateral relations. The first meeting between Prime Minister Imran Khan and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in Shanghai in November 2018 had set the tone to deepen cooperation in all areas. Views were also exchanged to support each other’s position at multilateral forums. It was also decided to maintain close and regular contact for strengthening understanding on important issues.

Published in Dawn, December 27th, 2018