Russia considers production of Sputnik V vaccine in Pakistan

Lavrov says 150,000 more doses will be provided soon: Qureshi says many obstacles to gas pipeline project overcome: Islamabad, Moscow to enhance defence, security cooperation

By: News Desk      Published: 02:33 PM, 7 Apr, 2021
vaccine defence
Pakistani and Russian foreign ministers before the start of their talks.

Moscow viewed the potential production of the Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine in Pakistan as a promising initiative, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters on Wednesday at a joint news conference in Islamabad after talks with his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi.

Lavrov said "Such production has already been launched in those countries, which are our foreign partners. It is beginning in India, Korea and Belarus. Of course, we are ready, given the available opportunities, to try to help our Pakistani counterparts satisfy their needs, but we have obligations to those countries that contacted us earlier. I believe, however, that this is a very promising issue. Our relevant experts will work on its implementation."

Lavrov noted that 50,000 doses of the Russian vaccine had been delivered to Pakistan, and another 150,000 doses would be provided soon. "Of course, Pakistan’s needs are much greater, but so far it is all about the ability to manufacture that vaccine," he added.

Earlier, the foreign ministers of Pakistan and Russia held delegation-level talks focusing on the entire gamut of bilateral relations. Qureshi and Lavrov led their respective sides and discussed matters pertaining to regional and international importance.

The talks between Qureshi and Lavrov were wide-ranging during which they reviewed their bilateral cooperation in the field of energy, security, including counter-terrorism and defence.

Lavrov, the first Russian foreign minister to visit Pakistan since 2012, was welcomed by Qureshi at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Lavrov planted a sapling in the premises of the ministry and then went inside the building for a joint photo session, followed by the delegation-level talks. 

“Pleased to welcome Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to the Foreign Office for excellent meetings. Building multi-dimensional relations with Russia is a key priority for Pakistan and we believe a strong relationship contributes to regional stability and global security,” Qureshi said in a tweet.

Divulging details about his talks, Qureshi said: "We considered ideas to further promote #EconomicDiplomacy and discussed progress in the area of energy cooperation including the Pakistan-Stream Gas Pipeline project".

"We reviewed our cooperation in the field of security including counter-terrorism and defence,” he said.

Qureshi said that they agreed on the need to promote greater people-to-people contact through greater collaboration across a diversity of fields, including education. "We will also be enhancing our cooperation within the framework of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation," Qureshi said.

Pakistan and Russia share convergent positions on several issues on multilateral agenda including peace and stability in Afghanistan, he said.

Qureshi also raked up the Kashmir issue in his talks with the visiting Russian foreign minister. Qureshi said he shared with Lavrov the perspective on larger questions of peace and security in South Asia, and the human rights situation in Jammu and Kashmir.

"We are confident that this visit will give further momentum to our deepening friendship and we remain committed to expanding our relations in diverse areas through further high-level contacts," Qureshi said on Twitter.

Officials said that the two foreign ministers held in-depth discussions on various topics of bilateral interest with the aim to expand the multi-faceted ties.

Later, addressing a joint news conference, the Russian foreign minister said his country stands ready to further build counter terrorism potential through provision of military equipment. This, he said, is in the interest of all states of the region. He said both the sides have agreed to further conduct military exercises and drills.

Lavrov expressed satisfaction over 46 percent increase in bilateral trade. He however stressed there is need to further diversify it.

Discussing the opportunities in the energy sector, the Russian minister said both the countries are now discussing a new protocol on Stream Gas Pipeline project and as soon as it is signed, the construction work on the project will be started.

Lavrov termed the relationship between the two countries mutually beneficial and constructive. He said Moscow has provided 50,000 doses of anti-Covid vaccine to Pakistan and intend to provide 150,000 more. 

Voicing concern over the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan, he said Pakistan and Russia have agreed to further facilitate the parties to reach an agreement to put an end to civil war through an inclusive political dialogue.

Lavrov said we believe that against the backdrop of tensions in the region, we should not forget the task of establishment of the state of Palestine. He said Russia stands ready to facilitate direct dialogue between Palestine and Israel.

In his remarks on the occasion, Qureshi said Pakistan is keen to build a strong multifaceted relationship with Russia. He said there is a new approach and mindset in Pakistan for relationship with Russia. “We feel that not just we have geographic proximity but Russia is a factor of stability in the region and the world at large.”

Qureshi said Pakistan wants to build a relationship of trust with Russia. He said Moscow has always advocated primacy of international law and multilateralism. These are principles that Pakistan adheres to. “Our coordination and cooperation at the United Nations level has been excellent.”

He reaffirmed the commitment to deepen relations with Pakistan and create win-win cooperation between the two countries.

Alluding to the discussion that took place on the entire spectrum of bilateral relations, Qureshi said we have agreed to hold the intergovernmental commission meeting this year in Moscow, expressing the confidence it will lay the foundation for a more meaningful economic relationship between the two countries.

Regarding Stream Gas Pipeline project, he said we have overcome many of the obstacles, reassuring the Russian counterpart that Pakistan wants to go ahead and committed to the project.

Qureshi said that Russia has also acknowledged Pakistan's successful campaign against terrorism and extremism. He said that he also briefed the Russian counterpart about the human rights situation in Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

Describing the visit of Russian Foreign Minister an important one, he said it is taking place after almost a decade. He noted this visit will further deepen bilateral relationship and friendship and we intend to maintain this momentum and high level contacts.   

During the visit, the Russian foreign minister will also call on Prime Minister Imran Khan and have interaction with other dignitaries. He is also expected to meet Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

Qureshi ahead of Lavorv's arrival said that there was a lot of scope for economic cooperation. He said that Russia was playing a role in the Afghan peace process.

He later on tweeted that the Russian Foreign Minister's visit is in line with the commitment of Islamabad and Moscow to further strengthen their bilateral ties and deepening the growing bonds of cooperation and collaboration.

Separately, the Russian Foreign Ministry, in an official statement on Lavrov's visit to Islamabad, said that Pakistan is an important foreign policy partner of Russia and fruitful interaction is maintained at international organisations, primarily in the UN and its specialised agencies.

The cooperation between Moscow and Islamabad is based on the coincidence or similarity of positions on most of the problems of the world community, including issues of strategic stability and countering terrorism, according to the statement.