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Russia supports Pakistan's stance on drone strikes.

ISLAMABAD -- Russia on Thursday backed Pakistan's stance against the drone strikes and termed it violation of the country's sovereignty and integrity.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Viktorovich Lavrov in a joint press stakeout with Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar expressed the views as the two held discussions at the Foreign Office here. "It is not right to violate the sovereignty and integrity of any state. We fully support Pakistan's stance," the Russian foreign minister said, concluding his two-day visit to Islamabad. Foreign Minister Khar in response to a question on drone strikes said Pakistan always stated categorically that such attacks were not only illegal but also counter-productive. She said the position Pakistan took on drone strikes in closed-door meetings and in public was the same. She stressed the need to deal the issue of terrorism by legal means only.

She said killing one or two terrorists at the cost of collateral damage could help win a battle, but would loose the hearts and minds of the people.

The two foreign ministers who held a bilateral round of meeting expressed optimism that relations between the two countries would further strengthen in the days ahead. Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov said the meeting with Foreign Minister Khar which was second in a year, discussed global agendas, maintaining regular contacts and cooperation against terrorism and drug trafficking.

He said the talks also focused regional agenda, Afghanistan issue and the Iranian nuclear programme.

Responding to a question on postponement of Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to Pakistan to attend the quadrilateral summit, the Russian Foreign Minister said the reason was Putin's "tight schedule".

He said President Putin had sent a message to President Asif Zardari about his unability to visit Islamabad due to busy schedule. He dispelled the impression that the postponement linked to any misunderstanding with Pakistan.

Khar said Pakistan was very keen to receive President Putin and clarified that it was only due to the tight schedule and "nothing more and nothing less."

She said in diplomacy, a single visit does not define the scope of relationships between the states. She termed the visit on Russian foreign minister a very positive indication following the postponement of Putin's visit.

When asked the Russian stance on Kashmir dispute, Foreign Minister Lavrov said Russia welcomed the efforts of two countries to resume dialogue and the steps towards the Confidence Building Measures (CBMs).

He said the two countries were capable of resolving their issues on their own.

On Afghanistan, he said the solution for settlement of the issue should come from within the country. He mentioned that all other proposals that emanated from abroad did not work. Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said Pakistan's political leadership was committed to having strong bilateral relations with the Russian federation and further expand these into all areas of cooperation.

She said the Pakistan-Russia ties entered a "new era" of bilateral relations with the visit of President Asif Ali Zardari to Moscow.

She said the country's parliament had given clear policy guidelines for further strengthening and improving ties between the two countries.

Khar and her Russian counterpart who earlier discussed the whole range of bilateral relations covering the political and economic spheres said there was a consensus that the joint projects on which the two countries worked in the 20th century must see more collaboration in the 21st century.

Khar referred to the recently inked three Memoranda of Understanding on the expansion and modernization of the Pakistan Steel Mills, collaboration and cooperation in the Railways and the energy sector, terming it a positive development. She expressed hope that the two countries would be able to move beyond the MoUs.

Khar said both the sides also agreed on the need of finding an opportunity shortly for a meeting between the political leadership of the two countries.

During the talks, there was convergence of views on regional and international issues between the two sides and also at the international fora.

The talks also covered regional issues including the situation in Afghanistan, Libya and Syria.

Khar mentioned that the progress made on the Inter-government Commission on trade provided an excellent opportunity to review and expand relations on the economic and trade areas between the two countries.
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Publication:Balochistan Times (Baluchistan Province, Pakistan)
Geographic Code:9PAKI
Date:Oct 5, 2012
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