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Pakistan, Russia Agree to Burry the Hatchet

by on 01/25/2011

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By Kamran Yousaf

Russia

Moscow suspects that extremists in Pakistani sanctuaries have links with militants from the North Caucasus and other Muslim Russian regions.

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Russia, the cold-war rivals, agreed to bury the hatchet and take ‘pragmatic steps’ towards promoting partnership on key regional and strategic issues during talks here on Monday.

The agreement was reached at the meeting of the Pakistan-Russia Consultative Group on Strategic Stability. Visiting Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov led a Russian delegation at the talks while the Pakistani side was represented by Additional Foreign Secretary Munawar Saeed Bhatti.

“The two sides reaffirmed their commitment to deepen their relationship and take pragmatic steps towards promoting a comprehensive partnership between Pakistan and Russia,” said an official statement issued after the talks. Islamabad and Moscow remained bitter enemies in the 1980s when Pakistan along with other western countries backed the so-called holy warriors or mujahideen fighting the Soviet troops in Afghanistan.

However, in recent years the two countries have made attempts to move beyond the cold-war era and develop a partnership. “The world is becoming bi-polar … new re-alignments are taking place and Russia is an important player in this equation,” said a senior Foreign Office official last week while giving a background briefing to diplomatic correspondents.

A foreign ministry official said the two sides reviewed developments relating to international and regional security.

“We have also discussed issues concerning arms control, nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation,” the official added.

He said Pakistan had articulated its principled position on a proposed treaty that seeks a ban on the production of fissile materials to make atomic bombs.

Islamabad has been resisting pressure from powerful western countries to sign a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT).

The idea of placing a ban on the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons has been discussed for a long time, and the talks broke down in 1995. Since then, there has been very little formal progress.

However, US President Barack Obama is trying to revive the process. Islamabad has been accused of being a major roadblock in the way of finalising an accord on FMCT.

“Russians do understand Pakistan’s position and concerns on the issue,” the official said.

Pakistan also conveyed its concerns to Russia over its defence deals with India.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 25th, 2011.

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