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Russian, Pakistani Forces Launch Joint Exercise In North Caucasus


Pakistan and Russia conducted their first joint exercises last year. (file photo)

Special forces from Russia and Pakistan have begun a two-week joint training exercise in Russia’s North Caucasus republic of Karachayevo-Cherkessia.

At a September 25 opening ceremony attended by 200 troops and special forces commanders from both countries, Pakistani General Saeed Alamdar Houssein Shah said the exercises were "of great importance" to both Islamabad and Moscow.

"The drills are aimed at exchanging professional experience and to consolidate cooperation in the military sphere between Russian and Pakistani mountain units," Shah said at the opening ceremony in the village of Nizhny Arkhyz.

Vadim Astafyev, spokesman for the forces in Russia's Southern Military District, said the Druzhba 2017 drills would enhance cooperation in counterterrorism operations, hostage rescue missions, and cordon-and-search operations.

The drills are scheduled to continue through October 4.

Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the media wing of the Pakistani military, said Pakistani Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa is expected to visit Russia during the first week of October.

Pakistan and Russia signed a defense cooperation agreement in 2014 that provides for cooperation on promoting international security.

The accord also calls for intensification of counterterrorism efforts and arms control activities as well as strengthening military cooperation and sharing experiences in counterterrorism operations.

The two countries conducted their first joint exercises under the accord in September 2016 – dubbed as Druzhba 2016 -- in the mountains near the Pakistani village of Cherat between the cities of Peshawar and Rawalpindi.

With reporting by AP, Dawn.com, TASS, and Interfax
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