ISLAMABAD - Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi yesterday said that Pakistan aimed long-term relations with Russia.

Speaking to journalists here before leaving for Moscow to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Council of Foreign Ministers meeting, he said the two countries had come much closer and were already cooperating in different sectors.

The Foreign Minister said he will have a meeting with Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov today (September 10) to discuss enhancing of the cooperation.

“A meeting with the Russian Foreign Minister has been scheduled. There are bright chances of promotion of bilateral relations with Russia in days to come. Pakistan looks forward for long-term multi-dimensional partnership with Russia,” he said.

Qureshi said Russia had interest in North-South gas pipeline project, which can benefit Pakistan.  He said 1100-kilometer long pipeline will be laid between Karachi and Lahore, and this project has been delayed since 2015. The FM said the project will be discussed and some progress may also take place during the visit.

The Foreign Minister said he will also meet Foreign Ministers of various Central Asian Republics and discuss with them ways to enhance Pakistan's trade volume. He said Gwadar Port's role for progress and prosperity of the region will also be discussed. Qureshi said SCO was an important platform that provided numerous opportunities for progress, prosperity and regional connectivity.

He said there will be several countries at the conference that have keen interest as well as link with peace and stability in Afghanistan. He said he will hold meetings with them on the sidelines of the conference.

Later, Shah Mehmood Qureshi flew to Moscow on two-day visit to attend meeting of Council of Foreign Ministers of SCO on the invitation of his Russian counterpart.

The Moscow SCO-CFM will consider more than 20 documents for subsequent adoption in the SCO Council of Heads of State today (September 10). It will also adopt a Joint Communiqué reflecting member states’ unified stance on important regional and international issues.

The Foreign Minister will also have bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the CFM.

The SCO-CFM is the highest forum of SCO after the Council of Heads of State and the Council of Heads of Government (CHG). It deliberates on important regional and international issues and considers documents for approval and adoption by the Council of Heads of State.

Besides Pakistan, SCO’s current membership comprises China, Russia, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. SCO is an important forum for further enriching our deep-rooted historical and cultural links with member states, providing these ties a sound economic foundation, and promoting Pakistan as a regional trade and transit corridor.

Since becoming a member in 2017, Pakistan has been actively contributing in working towards achieving SCO’s multi-sectoral agenda through participation in various SCO mechanisms. From 2005 to 2017, Pakistan was an Observer in SCO.

The SCO is a permanent intergovernmental international organisation, the creation of which was announced on June 15 2001 in Shanghai China by the Republic of Kazakhstan, the People's Republic of China, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Russian Federation, the Republic of Tajikistan, and the Republic of Uzbekistan. It was preceded by the Shanghai Five mechanism.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Charter was signed during the St. Petersburg SCO Heads of State meeting in June 2002, and entered into force on September 19 2003. This is the fundamental statutory document which outlines the organisation's goals and principles, as well as its structure and core activities.

The Heads of State Council is the supreme decision-making body in the SCO. It meets once a year and adopts decisions and guidelines on all important matters of the organisation.

The SCO Heads of Government Council meets once a year to discuss the organisation's multilateral cooperation strategy and priority areas, to resolve current important economic and other cooperation issues, and also to approve the organisation's annual budget.