ISLAMABAD/MOSCOW

Pakistan and Russia on Wednesday discussed the need for close coordination on efforts for a political settlement in Afghanistan.

Top diplomats of the two countries met on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Council of Foreign Ministers meeting in Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan.

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi briefed his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov on Islamabad’s “constructive approach towards the Afghan peace process,” read a statement by Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry.

“Reiterating continued support, the Foreign Minister emphasized close coordination between the two countries to help achieve negotiated political settlement,” it added.

They also “agreed to work closely to further strengthen bilateral relations in all spheres.”

Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Lavrov and Qureshi discussed pressing regional and international issues, with an emphasis on the situation in Afghanistan.

“Both sides stressed the need to further increase the multifaceted bilateral cooperation, including in counterterrorism as well as trade and economic fields,” the statement said.

Addressing the SCO meeting earlier, the Pakistani foreign minister termed the situation unfolding in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of US and NATO troops a matter of “serious concern.”

“The rise in violence in recent weeks has exacerbated an already volatile situation. A specter of chaos and escalated conflict looms large that would also give space to the spoilers who wish to see a reign of instability in Afghanistan and the region,” Qureshi said.

He urged all stakeholders in Afghanistan to “engage constructively and work for a negotiated political solution.”

“For its part, Pakistan has been, and will always be, a partner for peace. We stand ready to work with SCO member states to reinforce efforts for sustainable peace and stability in Afghanistan,” he asserted.

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