Russia’s and Pakistan’s views coincide on Syria
On Wednesday, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had talks with his Pakistani counterpart Ms. Hina Rabbani Khar in Moscow.
However, at a press conference where he summed up the results of this meeting, Mr. Lavrov spoke on Syria probably no less than on Pakistan. Small wonder, however, if we take into account two facts. First, the conflict between the government and opposition in Syria is one of the most acute problems in the world today. Second, the Russian Prime Minister recently returned from Syria, where he has had talks with President Bashar al-Assad.
“There can be no other way to peace in Syria than through a peaceful dialogue between the conflicting sides," Mr. Lavrov said at the press conference. “The international community should encourage them to start such a dialogue, but no external force should pressure Syria into making any particular decision.”
He also described as “bizarre” the decision by several countries, both in the West and in the Arab world, to recall their ambassadors from Syria.
“Russia would back any initiative aimed at persuading the conflicting sides in Syria to start a dialogue,” Mr. Lavrov said. “That is what all the countries, be it the US, Europe, or the Arab world, should do here – persuading, but not putting pressure on either side to take any particular decision.”
Asked whether Russia had tried to persuade Bashar al-Assad to resign, Mr. Lavov said:
“No. It is up to the Syrians themselves to decide who should rule their country. I believe that Syria’s current government should hold talks with all opposition forces in the country, for the final decision should suite everyone.”
“I don’t understand what was behind the decision of several countries to recall their ambassadors from Syria,” Sergey Lavrov continued. “This will hardly help to settle the Syrian conflict peacefully.”
Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar gave no comments about the recalling of ambassadors, but she agreed with Mr. Lavrov that a dialogue can be the only way to peace in Syria.
Ms. Khar also praised Russia for being “a source of stability and peace” in the Asia-Pacific region. She added that Pakistan recognizes Russia’s interests in that region as lawful and respects them.
At present, the economic cooperation between Russia and Pakistan is estimated in tens of millions of dollars. The two countries are developing joint projects in metallurgy, transport and the banking sphere. It was confirmed once again during the two foreign ministers’ talks that Russia is interested in such large-scale energy projects as “Casa-1000” (exporting of electric power to Afghanistan) and “Tapi” (construction of a gas pipeline).
Of course, joint economic projects are hardly possible without political cooperation. At present, besides holding a two-sided political dialogue, Russia and Pakistan are both involved in such international structures as the Shanghai Organization of Cooperation and the so-called “Dushanbe Quartet” (a summit of the leaders of Afghanistan, Russia, Pakistan and Tajikistan).
Summing up the outcome of their meeting, both ministers confirmed that, as a rule, Russia’s and Pakistan’s approaches to the main problems of today’s world’s politics coincide. This is an especially good sign as Pakistan will become a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council in 2013 and 2014.
For Ms. Hina Rabbani Khar, this is her second visit to Moscow, but the first one in the status of Pakistan’s Foreign Minister.