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Pakistan army chief says will back political solution in Balochistan

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Islamabad, Oct 4, IRNA -- Pakistan’s Army Chief, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Wednesday announced support to political solution to problem in the country's volatile southwestern Balochistan problem, the military said.

General Kayani made the comment on his departure to Moscow on a four-day visit to Russia, a brief statement from the army's Inter-Services Public Relations said.

Opposition parties in the province claim that the security forces are behind the killing and kidnapping of the anti-government nationalist groups. The security forces deny the charges.

'Commenting on the current situation in Balochistan on his departure for Russia, the Chief of the Army Staff, said that the army will fully back any solution under the constitution of Pakistan,' the message sent to the media said.

The statement did not offer more comments.

Military sources said General Kayani will hold talks with his Russian counterpart and other top Russian military leaders and will discuss cooperation between the two militaries. It is expected that he will also meet Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The army spokesman, Maj Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa, told the local media last week that it would be the first-ever bilateral visit by any Pakistan army chief to Russia, marking the beginning of a new phase in the otherwise troubled ties between the two countries.

During his visit, Gen Kayani is expected to meet top Russian military and civil leaders to discuss options for expanding military-to-military cooperation between the two countries, according to Gen Bajwa.

General Kayani’s visit coincides with the trip of the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Viktorovich Lavrov, who is scheduled to arrive in Islamabad on a two-day visit later on Wednesday.

Lavrvo’s visit was announced by the Foreign Ministry late Monday just few days after the visit to Islamabad by Russian President Vladimir Putin was postponed.

President Putting was scheduled to attend the quadrilateral summit, which was planned to be held in Islamabad from Oct 2-3. Leaders from Afghanistan and Tajikistan were scheduled to attend the summit.

There had been strong rumours that General Kayani visit may also be rescheduled in the wake of the postponement of President Putin’s visit but the military had earlier indicated that he will proceed with the planned visit.

General Kayani called on Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf a day before his four-day visit to Russia and discussed matters relating to his trip, sources said.

Analysts say Kayani will give a push to Islamabad's efforts to improve relations with Moscow ahead of the pull out of foreign troops from Afghanistan.

Islamic Republic News Agency/IRNA NewsCode: 80354262

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