ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Russia are willing to finalise a deal allowing Moscow to export its sophisticated MI-35 military helicopters to Islamabad.
A top Russian diplomat revealed this while clarifying that the Kremlin had never imposed an embargo on arms export to Pakistan. “There was not any kind of embargo in force, in the first place,” said Russian Ambassador to Pakistan Alexey Y Dedov in his maiden press briefing on Tuesday since landing in Pakistan this February. The envoy spoke his mind on a number of issues of diplomacy entailing regional and global implications, ranging from Pak-Russia defence cooperation to the annexation of two federal subjects by Russia and scheduled withdrawal of allied forces from Afghanistan.
Commenting on the reports that Russia ended its embargo to allow arms export to Pakistan, the Russian diplomat said, “There was no such thing at all as embargo. Pakistan has showed its interest in purchasing the Russian helicopters MI-35 and we are also willing to sell them, but a deal has not been finalised so far,” the envoy said while hinting at a possible agreement between the two states on this count. “We are ready to provide the helicopters, but nothing has been agreed upon as yet.” To a query by Daily Times regarding whether the negotiations on the said deal were still underway and the timeline for reaching an agreement, Dedov said, “I can’t confirm that the negotiations are still on but I can say that Pakistan showed a great interest in buying the helicopters and we have responded positively. Both sides are very much willing and determined to take the matter to the next level.”
Dedov said several projects in defence, strategic and economic sectors between Islamabad and Moscow were in the pipeline. He said the upcoming visit of Prime Minister’s Advisor on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz to Russia would be a major breakthrough in this regard. Aziz is scheduled to land in Kazan to participate in the fifth International Meeting of High-Level Officials Responsible for Security Matters from 18-20 June, 2014. The security situation in Afghanistan, the Russian envoy believed, would be challenging for Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) in the post-NATO withdrawal period.
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