ISLAMABAD - Pakistan and Russia have been able to "transcend" their history of mistrust and rivalry, leading to a rapid improvement and expansion in bilateral political, military and economic ties, says Defence Minister Khurram Dastgir.

The minister, currently attending an international security conference in Moscow, told Voice of America (VOA) prior to his departure that Islamabad sees Moscow's growing involvement in Afghanistan as an important development for promoting peace and countering terrorism in the war-ravaged country.

Islamabad's relations with Moscow "stand at a positive place", Dastgir noted. "Both countries have, I believe, been able to transcend their history and to have a fresh beginning."

Dastgir said he was scheduled to meet his Russian counterpart, Sergei Shoigu, on the sidelines of the ongoing security meeting to discuss how to further mutual defence relations.

Pakistani officials say Russia and Pakistan are also in talks for potential multi-billion-dollar energy deals, while Moscow will also build a gas pipeline linking Karachi and Lahore.

"It is a beginning because, of course, that history of mistrust and essentially standing on two opposite sides is there; but, both countries, because of many geo-strategic reasons, now find it a more optimal path to be cooperating with each other," noted Dastgir.

Dastgir blamed US President Donald Trump's new South Asia strategy for current strains in mutual ties, saying it seeks to scapegoat Pakistan for US military failures in Afghanistan.

Dastgir, however, said Pakistan's increased closeness with Russia, or deepening of ties with traditional ally, China, "does not take away anything" from relations with the US. "I want to emphasise that this need not be in any way a zero-sum relationship with the United States. It is just that Pakistan has done a regional recalibration of its foreign and security policies," he said.

When asked about US concerns that Russia could be attempting to undermine international efforts to stabilise Afghanistan by maintaining ties with the Taliban, the Pakistani minister said Russians are "very much in Afghanistan, they are in contact with them [theTaliban] and they talk to the them."

Dastgir echoed Russian concerns that Islamic State is increasing its footprint in "ungoverned" Afghan areas, threatening stability of neighbouring countries, including Russia's allied Central Asian states.

Both Islamabad and Moscow support efforts aimed at encouraging the Afghan government and the Taliban to open a peace dialogue to end the war and deter terrorists from using the country to destabilise its neighbours, Dastgir added.

"Our role, as we see it, is now merely as facilitators of the dialogue as envisioned by the Afghan government, so we will facilitate. For us, it is a fact that Pakistan's influence, whatever it had over the Taliban, has greatly reduced in the last half decade," maintained the minister.

Dastgir was referring to a single meeting Pakistan hosted between Kabul and Taliban negotiators in July 2015. Islamabad maintains it was also able to persuade the insurgents to return to the negotiating table the following year, but a US drone strike killed Taliban chief Mullah Mansoor, scuttling the peace effort once again.

"We will still be able to talk to them but to expect that Pakistan in any way can deliver the Taliban [to the table] is unrealistic," said Dastgir.