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Pakistani PM Set To Travel To Moscow For Meetings With Putin

Russian President Vladmir Putin delivers a video address on the Ukraine crisis on February 21.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan is scheduled to travel to Moscow this week for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in a meeting set up prior to the most recent crisis in Ukraine.

Khan is set to arrive in Russia on February 23 and will travel with a high-level delegation for a two-day visit, the Southeast Asian nation’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement on February 22.

“Pakistan and Russia enjoy friendly relations marked by mutual respect, trust and convergence of views on a range of international and regional issues," the statement said.

It said the two leaders “will review the entire array of bilateral relations including energy cooperation" and other regional and global issues.

Among the issues the Foreign Ministry statement cited were Islamophobia and the situation in Afghanistan.

The visit comes as tensions flare between Moscow and the West over Putin’s decision to recognize the independence bids of Russia-backed separatists in two regions of eastern Ukraine and to send Russian troops there.

The statement did not mention the Ukraine crisis, but Khan has publicly opposed any military intervention, favoring diplomacy instead.

Khan told Newsweek Pakistan in an interview published on February 21 that "this visit was planned well before the emergence of the current phase of Ukrainian crisis....I received the invitation from President Putin much earlier."

Pakistan has attempted to maintain good relations with both Moscow and Kyiv in recent years.

Based on reporting by AP and Reuters