Russian foreign minister to visit Pakistan
Islamabad: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will visit Pakistan during October 3-4 amid efforts by Islamabad to step up contacts with the political and military leadership in Moscow ahead of the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan.
Lavrov is visiting Islamabad for bilateral consultations at the invitation of his Pakistani counterpart Hina Rabbani Khar, Foreign Office spokesman Moazzam Khan said on Monday.
Khar had extended the invitation during her visit to Moscow in February.
During his stay in Islamabad, Lavrov is also scheduled to call on President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf.
Lavrov`s visit will coincide with a trip to Russia by powerful Pakistan Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, who is scheduled to be in Moscow during October 3-6 to give a push to Islamabad`s efforts to improve bilateral relations.
The flurry of contacts comes close on the heels of the cancellation of a scheduled visit to Pakistan by President Vladimir Putin.
Kayani will hold talks with Russia`s top military leadership and is expected to meet some political leaders, including Putin.
The cancellation of Putin`s two-day visit, which was to begin on October 2, led to the postponement of a quadrilateral summit of Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan and Afghanistan.
Pakistan had been projecting Putin`s visit as an opportunity to reset bilateral ties, which have been strained since the days of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.
There has been speculation that Putin`s decision to cancel his visit could be linked to Pakistan`s reluctance to award the work of building its section of the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline to Russian energy giant Gazprom.