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Moscow, Islamabad to discuss Afghan peace process

Moscow ISBPESHAWAR: Pakistan and Russia will hold high-level talks in Moscow this week on a negotiated political settlement in Afghanistan, an Islamabad-based newspaper reported on Monday.

Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif will pay a working visit to Moscow at the invitation of his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov on February 20, according to Daily Times.

Russian Foreign Ministry official Maria Zakharovawas quoted as saying: “We maintain an intensive political dialogue with Islamabad and maintain constructive interaction on international platforms, primarily, the UN.”

The foreign ministers are expected to focus on the role Pakistan and Russiacould play in promoting political negotiations on ending the conflict in Afghanistan — a source of regional instability.

Besides Pakistan, China, Iran and Central Asian states are also supportive of Russia’s regional peace initiative for a political solution to the war in Afghanistan.

Asif and Lavrov will hold talks ahead of a meeting of the Kabul Process in Afghanistan’s capital on Feb 28. The first meeting was held in June 2017.

Pakistan-US tensions are a major factorbehind Islamabad-Moscow relations getting stronger, believes former ambassador Ayaz Wazir. “It is the US which considers Russia a major threat and has adopted a hostile policy towards Pakistan.

“Weeks after US suspended Pakistan’s aid, it is now leading a move to put Pakistan on a global terrorist-financing watch list with an anti-money-laundering monitoring group,” Wazir told the newspaper.

By S. Mudassir Ali Shah, Peshawar 

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