Pak, Russia agree to continue efforts for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan
Islamabad/Moscow, Dec 26 : Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov on Wednesday agreed to continue efforts for peace and reconciliation in the war-torn Afghanistan.
Qureshi, who arrived here early Wednesday on the last leg of his four-nation tour, met Lavrov and the two leaders held in-depth talks on various bilateral and regional issues, including recent developments concerning the Afghan peace process.
"On the final leg of his tour to regional countries, FM Shah Mahmood Qureshi held discussions with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov," Foreign Office Spokesperson Mohammad Faisal tweeted.
Later, in a statement the Foreign Office said the "ministers agreed to continue efforts, including through Moscow Format of Consultations, for supporting reconciliation under an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process."
Lavrov "acknowledged" Pakistan's efforts to achieve a political settlement in Afghanistan and offered his country's support to bring stability in the region, the statement said.
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 FO said.
Both leaders also underscored the need to harmonise various regional approaches for developing a regional consensus on various issues.
Qureshi also stated that Pakistan "greatly values" its relations with Russia. He also expressed Pakistan's desire to forge a long-term, multidimensional partnership and friendship with Russia.
"Both sides expressed satisfaction on the upward trajectory of bilateral relations," the statement said.
Russia last month hosted Afghan peace talks that were attended by delegations of the Taliban, the Afghan government and global stakeholders. A Pakistani delegation had also attended the peace talks.
Earlier, the foreign minister visited Kabul, Tehran and Beijing, where he met his counterparts and other high-ranking officials.
In Kabul, he met Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani on Monday and later dashed to Iran to meet his counterpart Javad Zarif.
During his meetings in Afghanistan, Qureshi stressed the importance of peace in the war-torn nation for regional stability and renewed Pakistan's commitment to assist in the process.
On his trip to Tehran on the same day, the foreign minister discussed with Zarif the bilateral relations and regional situation. Both officials agreed on the importance of improved bilateral relations between the two countries.
On Tuesday, Qureshi was in Beijing and met Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and discussed the latest situation in Afghanistan.
China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told a media briefing in Beijing on Tuesday that both sides reiterated their determination to adopt a joint course of action for regional peace and stability, to promote connectivity and work for Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process.
Diplomatic sources said Qureshi briefed his hosts about Pakistan's efforts to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table in order to achieve peace in war-torn Afghanistan.
In a sudden move, President Donald Trump last week announced his decision to pull around half of the 14,000 US troops stationed in Afghanistan. The move has stunned and dismayed allies, diplomats and officials in Kabul. The announcement comes during a renewed push for talks with the Taliban to end the 17-year war.
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, Dawn reported.