In phone call with Russian FM, Qureshi stresses diplomatic solution to conflict in Ukraine

Published March 5, 2022
In this file photo, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi (R) welcomes Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (L) at the Foreign Office on April 7, 2021. — Photo by author
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the Foreign Office
In this file photo, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi (R) welcomes Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (L) at the Foreign Office on April 7, 2021. — Photo by author Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the Foreign Office

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi held a telephone call with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, on Saturday and stressed the need for a diplomatic solution to the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict, according to a statement issued by the Foreign Office (FO).

Qureshi also sought the Russian government's assistance for the evacuation of Pakistani citizens from Ukraine, the statement said.

The telephone call takes place as tensions escalate between Moscow and Kyiv and more than a week after Russia launched a military offensive in Ukraine, inviting criticism and sanctions from the West.

Meanwhile, Pakistan continues to face pressure from the US and other nations to condemn Moscow over its offensive in Russia.

The US said on Friday it had informed Pakistan that the war in Ukraine could have both regional and global consequences.

“We have briefed the government of Pakistan on the impact that Russia’s unprovoked war against Ukraine could have on regional and global security,” a US State Department spokesperson had told Dawn when asked to respond to these developments.

However, Pakistan’s UN Ambassador Munir Akram maintained that Islamabad was not only aware of the consequences of its actions, but also “supports all efforts” to restore peace in Ukraine.

Earlier on Tuesday, the heads of various foreign missions in Pakistan, including Germany and France, had urged Islamabad in a joint letter to condemn Russia's armed hostility against Ukraine in an session of the United Nations General Assembly, which was convened to vote for a resolution against Russia.

In the session, Pakistan had, however, abstained from voting but emphasised the need to protect the territorial integrity of a state without threatening the national interests of another.

Underlining Islamabad's concerns over the situation in Ukraine today, Qureshi highlighted during his conversation with Lavrov that Pakistan had been emphasising the significance of fundamental principles of the United Nations (UN) Charter to deal with the situation.

He told Lavrov that Pakistan had called for "de-escalation and underscored the need for a diplomatic solution in accordance with the relevant multilateral agreements, international law, and provisions of the UN Charter," the FO statement said.

Qureshi further informed the Russian foreign minister about his recent phone conversations with counterparts from Ukraine, Poland, Romania and Hungary, as well as with the high representative of the European Union, in which he had shared "Pakistan’s principled position and stressed the importance of finding a solution [to the Russia-Ukraine conflict] through dialogue and diplomacy".

He expressed the hope that talks initiated between Russia and Ukraine would "succeed in finding a diplomatic solution".

Moreover, the FO said, he emphasised that the "safe and swift" return of Pakistani citizens from Ukraine remained the government's topmost priority and requested Russia for help to facilitate the process.

Lavrov assured him of full support on this account, the FO statement added.

The Russian foreign minister also shared Moscow's perspective on the situation, spoke about Kremlin's measure to allow a humanitarian corridor in Ukraine and underlined readiness for the next round of talks with the Ukrainian side, the FO said.

Bilateral ties

In today's phone call, Qureshi also recalled PM Imran's recent visit to Russia, during which he and other ministers had accompanied the premier.

Many at home and abroad had questioned the timing of the visit as it coincided with the onset of the Russian offensive in Ukraine. However, the Pakistan government maintained that the visit was focused on bilateral cooperation, was being planned for a while and held little relevance to the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Qureshi referred to the "wide-ranging talks on key subjects on bilateral agenda and the region, including Afghanistan", during his conversation with Lavrov today.

"Besides bilateral ties, the two foreign ministers discussed the regional situation," the FO said, adding that Lavrov told Qureshi that the Russian side would be following up on important bilateral matters discussed between the two countries.

He said the two sides would continue to work together on promoting shared goals of peace and stability in Afghanistan.

Lavrov conveyed also extended "deepest condolences" over the loss of life in a terrorist attack on a mosque in Peshawar on Friday and "stressed Russia’s condemnation of terrorism in all forms".

The two ministers agreed to remain in close contact.

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