Pakistan, Russia sign 'milestone' military cooperation pact

ISLAMABAD (AFP) - Pakistan and Russia signed a "milestone" military cooperation pact on Thursday aimed at bringing peace and stability in the region, Islamabad's defence ministry said.

The agreement was signed during a visit by Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu with Pakistan defence minister Khawaja Asif.

"The signing of the military cooperation agreement between the two significant countries of the region is a milestone," Asif said after the signing ceremony in a ministry statement.

"Both sides will translate this relationship in tangible terms and further strengthen military to military relations," Asif added.

The pair expressed hope that the agreement will pave the way for exchange of views and information, as well as issues related to strengthening of mutual trust and international security, counter-terrorist and arms control activities.

"The first-ever visit of the defence minister from Russian Federation has come at a very critical juncture when US led Nato forces are drawing down from Afghanistan by the end of 2014," the statement said.

"Apart from promoting bilateral defence relations, the visit will enable both countries to join hands in bringing peace and stability in the region," it added.

Russia has long been the largest supplier of arms to India, the nuclear-armed arch rival of Pakistan, which is the world's top arms buyer.

The country's ITAR-TASS news agency reported in June that Russia had lifted its embargo on arms supplies to Pakistan and was holding talks on supplying Islamabad with combat helicopters.

Shoigu, who is accompanied by a 41-member high level delegation, commended the skill and expertise of Pakistani armed forces in fighting the war against terrorism, the Pakistani defence ministry said.

"The world community not only praises but wants to do business with Pakistan now," it quoted Shoigu as saying.

During his stay, the Russian defence minister would also held in-depth delegation level talks with Pakistani authorities besides meeting Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

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