• Pakistan-Russia sign military deal

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    ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Russia signed a military cooperation agreement on Thursday during the first ever visit of a Russian defense minister to the country, an official statement said.

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    On the invitation of the Pakistani Defence Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Russian Defence Minister Army General Sergei Shoigu visited Islamabad for a day to attend the signing ceremony of the agreement.

    The Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation and the Ministry of Defense of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan concluded the accord.

    During the one-day visit the Russian minister, who was accompanied by a 41-member delegation, held in-depth talks with Pakistani authorities besides calling on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

    The visit followed reports that Moscow had given a go-ahead for the sale of MI-35 helicopters to Pakistan, which is interested in purchasing up to 20 helicopters, which are transport helicopters with land-attack capabilities.

    The official statement said: “The first ever visit of the Defense Minister from Russian Federation has come at a very critical juncture when US-led NATO forces are drawing down from Afghanistan by the end of 2014.” NATO is the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

    “Apart from promoting bilateral defense relations, the visit will enable both countries to join hands in bringing peace and stability in the region,” it added.

    During the meeting the Pakistani defense minister appreciated Russia’s “overtures in enhancing bilateral relations with Pakistan.”

    He said strong ties between Pakistan and Russia will help in building stability and prosperity in the region.

    The signing of the military cooperation agreement between the two “is a milestone,” Asif said.

    According to the official statement, the Russian defense minister “appreciated the skill and expertise” of Pakistani armed forces in fighting terrorism.

    Lauding Pakistani defense production, the Russian defense minister said the world community “not only praises but wants to do business with Pakistan now.” GULFNEWS

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