Nawaz Sharif visits Iran amid tensions

Updated 20 May 2014
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Nawaz Sharif visits Iran amid tensions

TEHRAN: Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif met Sunday with the Iranian president at the start of visit during which talks are likely to include border security and a stalled gas pipeline deal.
Sharif and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani met briefly for lunch, and are to hold more in depth talks on “bilateral issues and the expansion of economic cooperation,” the official IRNA news agency reported. During his two-day visit Sharif, who is accompanied by senior advisors, is also expected to meet supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s ultimate authority, media reported.
The visit comes amid tensions between the two neighbors following the kidnapping in February of five Iranian soldiers by extremists who took them across the border into Pakistan.
Tehran says the soldiers, four of whom returned home after being held for two months, were taken across the border into Pakistan, a claim Islamabad denies.
The fate of the fifth soldier is unknown. His abductors claim to have killed him but it is yet to be officially confirmed.
Ties between Islamabad and Tehran have also been strained following the announcement in February by the Sharif government that Pakistan was suspending work on a $7.5-billion pipeline for Iranian gas exports. The work on the Iranian side is almost complete and Tehran expects Pakistan to finish the project on its side.


UK and Russia hold first talks in over a year

Updated 16 February 2019
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UK and Russia hold first talks in over a year

  • The meeting is the first between ministers from the two countries following the poisoning of a former Russian spy in the English city of Salisbury on March 4
  • The attempted assassination of Sergei Skripal, which Britain said was done using a Soviet era nerve agent Novichok, plunged relations to their lowest ebb in decades

LONDON: Junior foreign ministers from Britain and Russia met in Germany on Saturday in the highest-level contact between the two countries since an alleged nerve agent attack in Britain last March froze diplomatic relations.
Britain’s Minister for Europe Alan Duncan held talks with Russia’s First Deputy Foreign Minister Vladimir Titov on the margins of the Munich Security Conference, according to the foreign office in London.
“Alan underlined that we have deep differences, and the Russian state would need to choose a different path and act as a responsible international partner before there can be a change in our current relationship with Russia,” it said in a statement.
The meeting is the first between ministers from the two countries following the poisoning of a former Russian spy in the English city of Salisbury on March 4 which Britain has blamed on Moscow.
The attempted assassination of Sergei Skripal, which Britain said was done using a Soviet era nerve agent Novichok, plunged relations to their lowest ebb in decades.
The attack killed a British woman who came into contact with the Novichok, as well as injuring several others including a policeman.
Among a raft of responses, London suspended all planned high-level bilateral contacts between the two countries, and canceled ministers and members of the royal family attending last summer’s World Cup in Russia.
“(The) minister reiterated the UK’s and Allies’ firm stance in response to the Russian state’s reckless use of chemical weapons in Salisbury,” the foreign office added in its statement.
“He made clear that Russia must address the concerns of the international community.
“This includes ending its destabilising activity in Ukraine; and the persecution of the LGBT community in Chechnya.”
The foreign office said Britain would continue to “build and strengthen our cultural ties and people to people links with Russia wherever we can.”
Ministers from around the world, including those from the US, France, Britain, and Germany, are taking part in several days of talks in Munich this weekend centered on global security issues.