Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan will go to Moscow this week to visit Russian President Vladimir Putin, Islamabad said on Monday, marking the first such journey by a Pakistani leader in more than two decades.
The two-day visit, which begins on Wednesday, was scheduled prior to the current Ukraine situation.
“During the Summit meeting, the two leaders will examine the whole range of bilateral ties, including energy cooperation,” Pakistan’s foreign office said in a statement, adding that Khan and Putin will also address Afghanistan.
Relations between Pakistan and Russia were minimal for years as Islamabad sided with the United States in the Cold War and was given Major Non-NATO Ally status by Washington after U.S. forces invaded Afghanistan in 2001.
In recent years, however, relations between the United States and Pakistan have deteriorated and there has been a thawing between Moscow and Islamabad, which has seen the planning of projects in the gas and energy fields.
In an interview published on Monday, Khan played down the timing of the visit, and any effect it would have on Pakistan’s relations with the West.
“This visit was planned well before the emergence of the current phase of Ukrainian crisis … I received the invitation from President Putin much earlier,” he told Newsweek Pakistan.