Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Wednesday that his country will supply ‘special military equipment’ to Pakistan to boost the country’s war against terrorism. Lavrov wrapped up his two-day visit, first by a Russian foreign minister in nine years, after holding official talks with Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan as well as Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa. “I reaffirm Russia’s readiness to provide assistance for strengthening Pakistan’s counterterrorism capability, which includes supply of special military equipment. We believe that this will be in the interest of all regional countries,” the Russian foreign minister said at a joint press conference with Qureshi after conclusion of formal talks. He assured Pakistan of full cooperation in diverse areas particularly to meet the country’s requirements in energy, security equipment and supply of coronavirus vaccine. Lavrov said substantive talks were held on the early construction of the flagship North-South gas pipeline project between Karachi and Lahore. To further support the energy-deficit Pakistan, he said his country has offered delivery of Russian Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) through the Russian companies Gazprom and Novatek and is awaiting response from the partners in Pakistan. He expressed satisfaction over the growth of bilateral trade by 46 percent and expressed readiness to further strengthen economic relations. He mentioned that substantive growth of bilateral trade is mainly due to trade of over 200 million wheat to Pakistan. “We want to make this increase sustainable and diversity our trade,” he added. He said Pak-Russia Intergovernmental Commission will meet in Moscow and the current year would be a key step in defining the sphere of cooperation in multiple areas. On nuclear energy, he said Russia’s ROSATOM and Pakistan’s Nuclear Energy Commission are in touch for cooperation for use of technology for medicine and industry. Lavrov expressed concern over the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan and the rise of terrorist activities in the north and east of the country. He said Russia, just like Pakistan, is seriously concerned about the aggravation of security problems in the war-torn country. “We agreed to continue working to create conditions for the conflicting sides to find constructive solutions that would allow them to stop the civil war in Afghanistan on the basis of agreements on the establishment of inclusive power structures,” he said, adding this was the aim of the expanded troika meeting on Afghanistan, which was held by Russia, China, United States and Pakistan in Moscow on March 18. On ties between Pakistan and India, the Russian foreign minister welcomed the efforts leading towards the normalization of relations between the two countries. In the backdrop of tension in Middle East, he favoured establishment of the State of Palestine, saying, “Russia stands to facilitate a direct dialogue between Israel and Palestine.” He said Pakistan and Russia both hold similar views on current international affairs as both have a common interest in carrying on and strengthening the coordination of efforts on the international stage, including at the UN. About the Covid-19 vaccine, Lavrov said Russia has already supplied 50,000 doses to Pakistan of its vaccine, and another 150,000 will be delivered soon. “We are ready to try to help our Pakistani colleagues meet their needs using the available production capacity. But we also have obligations to countries that made requests earlier. Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said Pakistan is keen to build a strong multi-dimensional relationship with Russia, considering it a “priority with a new significant approach”. Welcoming the visit of a Russian foreign minister in almost a decade, he said Pakistan regards Russia an as an ‘important factor’ in the stability of the region. He mentioned that the talks focused on strengthening cooperation in trade, energy, security and cooperation at United Nations. “In our cooperation, the sky is the limit”. He said Pakistan in view of its energy needs could greatly benefit from Russia. Qureshi said the two countries had scope to cooperate within the framework of Pakistan-Russia Security Dialogue and thanked the Russian foreign minister for acknowledging Pakistan’s role in anti-terrorism. He mentioned briefing his Russian counterpart on the situation at Pakistan’s border with India. He expressed confidence that visit of the Russian foreign minister would deepen friendship and high-level contacts between the two countries. Earlier, both foreign ministers held delegation-level talks focusing on the entire gamut of bilateral relations and discussed matters pertaining to regional and international importance. Separately, Lavrov called on Prime Minister Imran Khan and discussed Pakistan-Russia relations and issues of regional and global importance, the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement. The prime minister fondly recalled his interaction with President Vladimir Putin during the SCO Summit in Bishkek in June 2019, where he had underscored his desire to take the bilateral relationship to a new level. He reiterated the importance Pakistan attaches to its relations with Russia as a key foreign policy priority and expressed satisfaction at the steady growth in bilateral ties, including deepening cooperation in trade, energy, security and defence. Imran Khan reaffirmed Pakistan’s resolve to expeditiously conclude the requisite legal process for the “Pakistan Stream” (North-South) Gas Pipeline project and commence the work as early as possible. Enhanced bilateral cooperation in the fields of energy, industrial modernization, railways and aviation was discussed. It was agreed that the Inter-Governmental Commission (IGC), due to meet in Moscow later this year, would closely pursue specific proposals and projects in this context. Views were exchanged on the health and economic challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic and the prime minister congratulated Russia on its development of Sputnik-V vaccine and underscored Pakistan’s procurement plans in this regard. In the regional context, the Prime Minister stressed the importance of a negotiated political settlement of the conflict in Afghanistan. Pakistan appreciated Russia’s efforts in promoting the Afghan peace process including through the hosting of the recent meeting of Extended Troika in Moscow. With reference to the situation in IIOJK, the prime minister shared Pakistan’s perspective on issues of peace and security in South Asia, including the need for peaceful resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute. The prime minister reiterated his invitation to President Putin to visit Pakistan at his earliest convenience.