Pakistan wants to jointly produce Sputnik-V vaccine

By Staff Reporter
Thursday – April 8, 2021
ISLAMABAD: The foreign minister (FM) Shah Mahmood Qureshi congratulated Russia on developing COVID-19 (coronavirus) vaccine and highlighted Pakistan’s plans to acquire more Sputnik-V, Wednesday, as well as to have joint venture for production of the vaccine in Pakistan.

According to press releases, the FM received Russian FM Sergey Lavrov, who is on his official two days visit to Pakistan, along-with his delegation at the foreign office (FO) in the federal capital.

Both had wide-ranging talks covering bilateral relations and regional and global issues.

Extending a warm welcome, FM Qureshi recalled his earlier meeting with Russian FM on the sidelines of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) council of ministers in Moscow in September 2020.

He underlined that strengthening of relations with the Russian Federation is an important foreign policy priority for Pakistan and that Pakistan-Russia relations, today, are marked by enhanced mutual trust and understanding.

Noting the important progress achieved in bilateral relations, the FM agreed on the need to intensify efforts to deepen cooperation in all areas, including economy and trade, energy, counter-terrorism, security and defence, education, and people-to-people exchanges.

FM Qureshi added that the next meeting of the intergovernmental commission (IGC) will cover a wide agenda encompassing economic, trade and energy cooperation between the two countries which hopefully will be result-oriented.

He reiterated Pakistan’s resolve to work with Russia for early commencement of the ‘Pakistan Stream’ north-south gas pipeline (PS-NSGP) project.

The FM briefed his Russian counterpart on Pakistan’s priorities relating to peace and stability in Afghanistan centred on an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process.

He appreciated Russia’s role in the Afghan peace process including through convening of the meeting of extended Troika in Moscow in March 2021.

FM Qureshi dilated on the human rights’ situation in Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) and underlined Pakistan’s approach to the issues of peace and security in South Asia and peaceful resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir (JK) dispute.

He noted with appreciation the close cooperation between Pakistan and Russia within the United Nations (UN) and at other multilateral fora including the SCO.

Matters relating to UN Security Council (UNSC) reform were also discussed.

There were detailed exchanges on matters relating to South Asia, West Asia, the Gulf region, the Middle East, and the Asia-Pacific.

The two ministers also discussed the potential of eurasian economic union (EEU) and the belt and road initiative (BRI).

FM Qureshi stressed that Pakistan remains committed to forge a closer, multi-dimensional relationship with Russia marked by trust and understanding.

He added that Russian FM Lavrov’s latest visit will help commence a new chapter in this direction.

Separately, in his media talk on Wednesday, Russian FM Lavrov said it is encouraging that our bilateral trade reached a record-high level last year, growing by over 45 percent to $790 million.

He continued, “Both sides agree that this could be further improved” adding “We should look for ways to deepen our economic cooperation still more. A crucial role in this belongs to the intergovernmental Russian-Pakistani commission on trade, economic, scientific and technical cooperation, which is scheduled to meet in Russia this year.”

Russian FM Lavrov informed, “We exchanged views on the outlook for cooperation in energy, including our flagship project, the PS-NSGP from Karachi to Lahore” reminding “We signed an intergovernmental agreement on this in 2015. We are now itemising its topics before formalising them in a protocol to this agreement. I hope we will sign it and will be able to launch the project without any delay.”

He mentioned, “Russian-Pakistani relations are constructive and mutually beneficial. We have developed a trust-based political dialogue, including at the high and top levels. It is gratifying that we have maintained regular contacts despite the coronavirus pandemic.”

Russian FM Lavrov noted, “We reaffirmed Russia’s readiness to continue providing assistance to the strengthening of Pakistan’s counterterrorism capability, which includes the supply of relevant equipment. We believe that this will be in the interests of all regional countries” adding “We agreed to continue the regular friendship tactical exercises in mountain conditions and the Arabian monsoon naval counterterrorism and anti-piracy exercises.”

He revealed, “We agreed that we hold similar or identical views on current international affairs. We have a common interest in carrying on and strengthening the coordination of our efforts on the international stage, including at the UN” highlighting “We pointed out that our Pakistani friends have been actively involved in the SCO’s practical activities, including its regional anti-terrorist structure, since Pakistan joined the SCO as a full member three years ago.”

Russian FM Lavrov said, “Russia, just like it’s Pakistani friends, is seriously concerned about the aggravation of security problems in Afghanistan. Terrorist activity is on the rise there, and Daesh is strengthening its positions in the country’s northern and eastern regions” reporting “We agreed to continue working to create conditions for the conflicting sides to find constructive solutions that will allow them to stop the civil war in Afghanistan on the basis of agreements on the establishment of inclusive power structures. This was the aim of the so-called expanded Troika meeting on Afghanistan, which was held by Russia, China, the United States (US) and Pakistan in Moscow on March 18, 2021.”

He narrated, “We discussed the developments in the Middle East and North Africa, including Syria, Libya and Yemen, as well as a Palestinian-Israeli settlement” communicating “We believe that, in light of the dramatic events taking place in the region, it is unacceptable to overlook the goal of creating a Palestinian State. Russia is willing to encourage a direct dialogue between Palestinians and Israelis and will actively promote this stand.”

Russian FM Lavrov disclosed, “We held an in-depth discussion on the situation in Asia Pacific. Ambiguous processes are developing there. A disruptive US-led geopolitical structure is being created there, and the strategies that are being promoted contradict everything that has been previously done in Asia Pacific” stressing “We strongly object to any attempts to create dividing lines there. We stand for the preservation of the open structures created with the central role of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).”

He elaborated, “During the talks, we also welcomed the recent steps taken by India and Pakistan to normalise bilateral relations.”

Russian FM Lavrov held, “We are satisfied with the outcome of our talks. We noted mutual readiness to continue to promote Russian-Pakistani ties.”

He expressed, “We saw a significant increase in mutual trade last year, mainly due to the supply of Russian wheat worth more than $200 million. We are interested in making this upward trend sustainable. To do this, we need to diversify our relations in this area. The PS-NSGP project linking Karachi and Lahore is expected to play an important role here.”

Russian FM Lavrov revealed, “Some time ago now, there was a mutual interest in the supply of Russian liquefied natural gas (LNG) by Gazprom, Rosneft and Novatek. Appropriate proposals have been put forward. We are waiting for a response from our Pakistani partners” disclosing “Another new field in our energy ties is cooperation between Rosatom and the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC). They are currently discussing specific steps in non-electric applications of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, in particular, in medicine and industry.”

He continued, “These and other projects, which will also be discussed by the IGC on trade, economic, scientific and technical cooperation between Russia and Pakistan, will certainly add stability to our ties.”

Russian FM Lavrov explained, “Russia has already supplied 50,000 doses of Sputnik-V vaccine to Pakistan, and another 150,000 will be delivered soon. As FM Qureshi mentioned, Pakistan’s needs are immeasurably greater, but so far, the situation depends on expansion of production outside the Russian Federation, in countries that are our foreign partners. India and Belarus have already established the production of Sputnik-V, and the Republic of Korea and a number of other countries will join them soon” adding “We are ready to try to help our Pakistani colleagues meet their needs using the available production capacity. But we also have obligations to countries that made requests earlier. This is a very promising topic. Our respective experts will work on it.”

He concluded, “I would like to thank our Pakistani hosts for the warm and hospitable welcome.”