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(Update 3 weeks ago)

Islamabad, 06 April (Agencies) : Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov arrives Tuesday in Pakistan for a two-day visit expected to focus on efforts  to bring peace to neighboring Afghanistan. 


Lavrov's visit to Pakistan is the first by a Russian foreign minister in nine years. Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said in a video statement Tuesday that the visit is indicative of a closer relationship between the two countries. 


Lavrov heads a 13-member delegation that includes Moscow’s special representative for Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov. Russia has intensified efforts to interject itself as a key player in the peace push and last month, Moscow hosted Taliban and Afghan government officials for a one-day meeting. 


Russia’s top diplomat arrives from India. While in Pakistan, Lavrov will meet Prime Minister Imran Khan, as well as Pakistan’s army chief, Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa.


“Pakistan and Russia are working together in the Afghan peace process,” Qureshi said in the video statement.


Sergey Lavrov’s visit comes as a May 1 deadline for U.S. troops to leave Afghanistan in line with a deal Washington signed a year ago with the Taliban seems increasingly unlikely.


The U.S. has accelerated efforts to get a peace deal for Afghanistan but is also seeking a three-to-six month extension on the troop withdrawal deadline amid repeated statements from President Joe Biden that America wants to end its longest war. That’s according to officials familiar with the talks who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to discuss the negotiations. Three years later the pro-Moscow government led by President Najibullah, who used only one name, fell to the mujahedeen.


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