"Afghan Issue" Puts Brake On Russo-Pakistani Relations

Pakistan's vaguely formulated position on the Afghan settlement hampers its relations with Russia, said Alexander Losyukov, deputy Russian Foreign Minister, during regular consultations at the foreign ministers' level held in Islamabad. First of all, the two sides will debate the positions on Afghanistan and the possibility of wider bilateral cooperation in the trade-economic sphere. Mr Losyukov met with Inam-ul-Haq, first deputy of the Pakistani Foreign Ministry, and Aziz Khan, deputy foreign Minister responsible for relations with Afghanistan. The Russian diplomat stated that Russia was concerned about the persistent Afghan crisis and the danger this country posed to the region as a whole. However, it is Pakistan's vaguely expressed position on the issue that hinders its relations with Russia, underscored Mr Losyukov. Shortly after the consultations, Aziz Khan left for Kandahar to condole with Taliban leaders on the death of Rabbani, the second man in the Taliban movement. And Aziz Khan promised to convey Russia's concern to the Taleban leadership. Pakistan claimed that it rendered to the neighbouring and friendly Afghanistan only humanitarian aid, not military one. The sides touched upon the Chechen issue. As for Pakistan, this country looks on Chechnya as Russia's constituent member. Moreover, Pakistan never gave visas for Chechens to travel to Afghanistan via its territory. The sides agreed to hold regular routine consultations on the Afghan issue. Russia and Pakistan disregard the unsatisfactory state of their current trade-economic relations. The sides say that it is necessary to find ways to improve the cooperation, with the special stress on power engineering and machine-building sectors created mainly with the help of the former USSR.

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