Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov arrived in Islamabad yesterday in an apparent effort to smooth feathers ruffled in Pakistan by Putin's last- minute cancellation of his own scheduled visit.
Confusion surrounds the Kremlin's hopes of establishing a tighter relationship with Pakistan, in advance of NATO's planned 2014 withdrawal from Afghanistan, after President Vladimir Putin abruptly canceled a visit to Islamabad planned for this week.
It would have been the first visit to Pakistan by any Soviet or Russian head of state, and a strong signal that something might be changing in the foreign-policy calculus of a country that has always strictly regarded India as its No. 1 regional partner.
The Kremlin says Mr. Putin's trip to Pakistan was never officially confirmed and his working schedule this week is "too tight" to accommodate the two-day visit, which was to have included participation in a regular summit of regional leaders on Afghanistan and bilateral talks on trade, technical, and military cooperation with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari.
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