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Russian President Vladimir Putin welcomed Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan in Moscow on Thursday, where the two leaders held “wide-ranging” talks on matters of “mutual interest,” according to reports.
The Putin-Khan meeting came as Russian troops were conducting a full-scale invasion of Ukraine – and the U.S. and other nations around the globe were taking actions and making plans to respond to the move.
The Ukraine invasion was among the items on the Putin-Khan agenda, Pakistani officials said, according to Voice of America News.
“The prime minister regretted the latest situation between Russia and Ukraine and said that Pakistan had hoped diplomacy could avert a military conflict,” Khan’s office said in a statement after the meeting, according to VOA.
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Khan stressed during the meeting that conflicts should be settled through dialogue and diplomacy, the statement added, according to the report.
Ned Price, a spokesman for the U.S. State Department, told reporters Wednesday that he expected Khan would express opposition to Putin’s action in Ukraine, VOA reported.
Other topics that Putin and Khan were expected to discuss included Islamophobia and the current status of Afghanistan, which shares a border with Pakistan, The Associated Press reported.
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The visit to Moscow by Khan was the first by a Pakistani prime minister in nearly a quarter-century, VOA reported.
Khan was also the first foreign leader to meet with Putin since the Russian leader claimed earlier this week that Ukraine’s eastern regions of Luhansk and Donetsk were independent states and Russian troops invaded Ukraine on Thursday, the report said.
The Pakistani leader’s visit to Moscow included a wreath-laying near the Kremlin, at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, according to photos posted on social media. Wednesday in Russia was Defenders of the Fatherland Day, the Russian equivalent to Veterans Day in the U.S.
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Pakistan and Russia were bitter adversaries during the Cold War years, as Pakistan aligned itself with the U.S., but recent years have seen Pakistan and Russia collaborate on military exercises and an attempt to help Pakistan overcome energy shortages, the report said.
Pakistan also is a major importer of wheat from Ukraine and maintains close economic and military ties with the country, the report added.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.