Pakistan in Talks With Russia on Buying Air Defense Systems

(PKONWEB) — Defense Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan confirmed to Russian media outlet Sputnik that Islamabad was in talks with Moscow on the issue of purchasing air defense systems, adding that Pakistan was interested in such weapons.

“Air defense system is a different kind of weapon we are interested. We are very much interested in a very wide range of Russian weapons technology. We are in negotiations [on air defense systems] and once we conclude negotiations, we will be able to announce them,” Khan said in an interview.

Khan also disclosed that Pakistan and Russia may reach an agreement on Islamabad purchasing Russian Su-35 jets “in the next few years.”. The talks on the issue are in their early stages, Khan said.

Pakistan is also interested in acquiring Russian T-90 tanks as a long-term commitment instead of a single purchase, Khan said in an interview with Sputnik on Thursday.

“We are interested in tanks T-90 and it is not going to be a one-time purchase but it is going to be a long-term commitment,” Khan said.

Pakistan and Russia signed a historical unprecedented agreement in 2014. As a result, the two one-time cold war foes have been able to conduct joint exercises; Pakistan has purchased Russian helicopters Mi-35 and now looking at much wider range of defense cooperation.

“In terms of training, Pakistani officers are coming to Russia and Russian officers are going to the Pakistani facilities for training,” Khan said. “We are also now discussing a wider range of military exercises, we are looking at a wider range of military equipment and intelligence sharing,” Khan said on the sidelines of the Moscow Conference on International Security (MCIS).

On the situation in Afghanistan, Khan said “We are supporting the Russian regional approach to Afghanistan and we hope that not only Russia but also China, Iran and of course the United States can sit together at the table and devise a way in which we can achieve internal peace and reconciliation within Afghanistan.”

Both Islamabad and Moscow are interested in a stable and democratic Afghanistan as it will positively contribute to security in Central Asia, the minister said.

The minister also praised a new approach by the Afghan leadership when it comes to ending the prolonged conflict in the country.

“One positive step that has happened recently is a genuine approach by President [Ashraf] Ghani when he had said that he no longer wants to win the war, but to end the conflict. To win the war was militarist American approach but now the Afghan approach is closer to Pakistan’s position on the matter. Pakistan’s highest priority regarding Afghanistan is to have a peaceful democratic stable neighbor,” Khan underlined.

Khan said he was delighted to say that Pakistan and Russia are largely in agreement on major international issues like Afghanistan, like fighting drug trafficking, situation in the Middle East. We are now looking now at almost all aspects of defense and there is excellent goodwill between our leadership,” Khan added.

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