RUSSIA STRONGLY SUPPORTS CHINA-PAKISTAN ECONOMIC CORRIDOR AS IT IS CRUCIAL FOR PAKISTAN’S ECONOMY, REGIONAL CONNECTIVITY: RUSSIAN ENVOY In an exclusive talk with Radio Pakistan, Alexey Dedov says CPEC is component of China’s Silk Road Belt and his country was also working on a similar Eurasian Economic Union and China, Russia are holding discussions to merge Silk Road Belt and EEU. Listen Talk Russia, Pakistan and China will hold the next round of Trilateral Working Group's meeting on Afghanistan in Moscow on December 27. This was disclosed by the Russian ambassador to Islamabad Alexey Y Dedov in an exclusive interview with News & Current affairs Channel of Radio Pakistan. He said there would be good discussions in Moscow in two weeks time on Afghan matters. He said this will be the third meeting of the “trilateral working group on Afghanistan”, following meetings in Beijing and Islamabad. The ambassador said “What we see in Afghanistan, unfortunately, is worrisome because it does not bring us optimism and these are three crucial elements; that is lack of stable self-sufficient economy, good governance and strong army,” he observed. “In particular we are especially concerned about the growth of Daesh which is proliferating its influence to some northern areas of Afghanistan, which directly border territories of our allies in our brotherly Central Asian republics,” he added. He strongly rejected world media reports of any alleged Russian support for Afghan Taliban and described them as ”fantasies”. He said the “We have never ever provided any kind of assistance to Taliban”. Instead, he said, Russia is assisting the Afghan government and has provided “some light weapons” on grant basis to its forces and is running programs to train Afghan police and military personnel in Russian institutions. Ambassador Dedov said that Moscow strongly supports the Afghan peace and reconciliation process, saying improvement in security situation in Afghanistan is in the interest of Russia. “We support notational reconciliation process in Afghanistan” he added. We have been cooperating with Pakistan on Afghan matters for quite a long time. One of the most promising platforms for settling the Afghan issue is SCO. It is hoped that Pakistan will become full fledged member of the SCO at the meeting of the Council of Heads of State, in Astana in June next year. Replying to a question, the envoy said that Russia strongly supports China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project as it is crucial for Pakistan's economy and regional connectivity. He pointed out that CPEC is component of China's Silk Road and his country was also working on a similar Eurasian Economic Union and China and Russia are holding discussions to merge the two projects. Asked about North-South gas pipeline project of Pakistan Government, the Russian Ambassador said they are eager to realize the project at the soonest. The Ambassador said the two countries are closely cooperating in different areas but there is need to enhance the volume of bilateral trade. About MI-35 gunship helicopter deal between the two countries, he said the contract has already been signed and it is now for the officials concerned to define a timeframe for the purpose. Replying to a question, the Russian Ambassador said his country wants Pakistan and India to resolve all issues including Jammu and Kashmir through peaceful means. He said Pakistan and Russia are also closely cooperating in efforts for restoration of peace in Afghanistan.