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Ukraine war

Pakistan PM conveys concern over Ukraine fallout in Putin meeting

Khan is first world leader to meet Russian president since invasion began

Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan during a meeting in Moscow on Feb. 24. (Kremlin via Reuters)

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) -- Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed concern over the economic fallout of the Ukraine conflict on developing countries in a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Thursday, Pakistan's foreign office said in a statement.

Khan was the first world leader to meet Putin since he ordered the launch of Russia's attack on Ukraine, having arrived in Moscow for a previously planned visit just hours before the invasion began.

"The prime minister stressed that conflict was not in anyone's interest, and that the developing countries were always hit the hardest economically in case of conflict," the foreign office said in a statement late Thursday following the meeting between Khan and Putin.

Khan had gone to Moscow with the aim of enhancing economic ties with Russia, one of the world's largest producers of gas, at a time when Pakistan's energy needs are rising fast. 

There were some calls in Pakistan for Khan to postpone the trip given the rising tensions between Russia and the West over Ukraine.

In an interview prior to his departure, Khan said Pakistan was not interested in taking sides or joining any bloc, and that it wanted to expand bilateral relations.

The U.S. State Department said it had communicated to Pakistan its position regarding Russia ahead of Khan's trip to Moscow.

The Pakistan foreign office statement added that during the meeting with Putin, Khan had "regretted the latest situation between Russia and Ukraine and said that Pakistan had hoped diplomacy could avert a military conflict."

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