Pakistan-Moscow secret channels!

The News
March 31, 2005
Khokhar holds secret meeting with Moscow
Mariana Baabar

ISLAMABAD: President General Pervez Musharraf's special envoy and former foreign secretary Riaz Khokhar has met Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Saltanov, reports quoting Russian "sources" said.

Islamabad has kept the visit secret till reports came from Moscow. All attempts failed to reach Jalil Abbas Jilani, spokesman at the Foreign Office Wednesday evening. Other officials at the ministry said they did not want to comment on this visit, but confirmed it took place.

Khokhar, who retired recently, was likely to be given important assignments from time to time given his long and rich experience as country's top diplomat. However, the government is keeping mum over what exact message Pakistan had sent to the leadership in Moscow.

According to reports from Russia, Alexander Saltanov told Pakistan that India is a "deserving candidate" for an expanded UN Security Council on the basis of consensus. In the context of an upcoming UN reform, the consistent and principled position of Russia on the enlargement of the membership of the UN Security Council is well known. "Moscow sees India as a deserving candidate," Russian "sources" said, echoing President Putin's statement in New Delhi in December last expressing Moscow's unequivocal backing for a permanent berth for India in the UNSC.

During talks with Khokhar, the Russian deputy minister, however, underscored the need for securing a consensus on UNSC reform, as provided for in the resolutions of the UN General Assembly.

Saltanov and Khokhar also spoke in favour of coordinated efforts by Russia and Pakistan on the anti-terror front, aimed, inter alia, at perfecting the international legal base for combating terrorism and countering the new challenges to international security.

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