Islamabad: Pakistan and Russia have signed a defence agreement for training Pakistani troops at Russian military training institutes, to further enhance bilateral defence ties.

The accord and meeting of the Russian Deputy Minister for Defence, Colonel General Alexander V Fomin with Pakistan’s Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa in Rawalpindi is a sign of growing cooperation in relations between the two states.

The troops training agreement was signed on Tuesday at the conclusion of the first meeting of Russia-Pakistan Joint Military Consultative Committee (JMCC), held from August 6-7, according to Pakistan’s Defence Ministry. “Both countries signed the Contract on Admission of Service Members of Pakistan in RF’s (Russian Federation) Training Institutes,” Pakistan’s Defence Ministry said in a statement.

The JMCC is the highest forum of defence collaboration between Pakistan and Russia, in which both sides exchanged observations on bilateral as well as key international issues.

Pakistani Defence Secretary Lieutenant-General (retd) Zamirul Hassan Shah headed the host side while Russian Deputy Defence Minister Col-Gen Fomin led the talks from Russia’s side. Before the inaugural meeting, the visiting dignitary called on Pakistan’s Defence Minister, Lieutenant-General (retd) Naeem Khalid Lodhi and the Lt-Gen Shah. The officials discussed the current status of their mutual defence relations with the aim of further boosting, expanding and diversifying mutual cooperation.

Pakistan and Russia, during the talks, also reviewed the progress made in bilateral defence cooperation since the signing of the defence cooperation deal in November 2014. The situation in the Middle East and Afghanistan also came under discussion, as the growing footprint of the Islamic State (IS) group in Afghanistan is one of Russia’s key concerns in its security dialogue with Pakistan.

On Tuesday, Russian Deputy Defence Minister also visited Pakistan Army’s General Headquarters (GHQ) to call upon Chief of the Army Staff, General Qamar Javed Bajwa. During his meeting with Gen Bajwa, the Russian official appreciated Pakistan Army’s achievements against terrorism and “expressed requirement” of cooperation to defeat extremism, according to the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR). The two sides had a discussion on “regional security situation, and matters of mutual interest including enhancement of bilateral defence and security cooperation”. He also stressed for greater collaborative approach among the global community to defeat extremism.

Pakistan and Russia initiated extensive dialogue this year with special focus on defence cooperation.