ISLAMABAD - Russia and Pakistan Thursday agreed to work closely on peace and stability in Afghanistan, a move that comes after the US decision to keep some of its troops beyond 2014 which has ostensibly prompted Russia and China to deepen their cooperation with regional countries.Well-placed diplomatic sources told The Nation the Special Representative of the Russian President on Afghanistan, Ambassador Zamir Kabulov who is currently on visit to Pakistan met the Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar and discussed host of issues including bilateral relations and Afghanistan.His visit to Pakistan shortly after the Chinese Foreign Minister’s visit to Pakistan, sources believed had identical purpose to strengthen Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in order to offset the US growing influence in the region.Sources in the Foreign Office said that the Special Representative of the Russian President on Afghanistan Ambassador Zamir Kabulov met with Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar and both held in-depth discussions on a range of bilateral issues as well as the situation in Afghanistan. According to sources, Hina noted that the process that the leadership of the two countries had initiated in recent years had turned a new page in bilateral relations. She expressed satisfaction over the substantial progress the two countries had made in various areas including cooperation in the energy sector, infrastructure development, trade and investment.  She also underscored the importance Pakistan attached to cooperating closely with Russia on the issue of stability, peace and security in the common region and to continue to enhance bilateral consultations and cooperation between the two countries in this respect. Earlier, the Special Representative had a detailed meeting with Foreign Secretary, Jalil Abbas Jilani. The two had extensive and constructive discussions on a range of bilateral issues and exchanged views on important regional and international issues of mutual interest.  They noted that there was a consensus among the leadership on improving bilateral ties and boosting cooperation for regional peace and stability. They also noted that there was a strategic convergence of views on major issues and underlined the importance of intensifying the political and security dialogue between the two countries.Discussing the situation in Afghanistan, they emphasised the importance that both countries attached to stability and peace in Afghanistan and decided to continue to work closely in this regard.Ambassador Kabulov also called on the Prime Minister the other day and briefed him on Pakistan-Russia bilateral relations as well as the Russian position on Afghanistan.

This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 01-Jun-2012 here.