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Pakistan claims Russia invited Imran Khan to the EEF in September. No we did not, says Russia

Pakistani media has been making claims that Imran Khan was personally invited by Vladimir Putin to attend the EEF while the two leaders met at the SCO summit in Bishkek last month.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan has not been invited to the Eastern Economic Forum scheduled to be held at the Russian city of Vladivostok in September. Russia, the host of the summit, had to step in to clarify after a section of media, especially in Pakistan, had recently reported that their PM Imran Khan will be ‘a guest of honour’ at the summit.

A report in Pakistani news outlet Dawn

Recently, several Pakistani media outlets had quoted ‘foreign office sources’ to claim that Pakistani PM Imran Khan has been invited to attend the Eastern Economic Forum to be held at the eastern Russian port city of Vladivostok from September 4 to September 6.

The media reports claimed that Russian president Vladimir Putin had extended the invitation to Imran Khan during the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Summit held last month in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

As reported by WION, clarifying over the issue, the Russian Foreign Ministry had yesterday made a statement that said, “We drew attention to the publications in a number of South Asian media that the Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan Imran Khan was invited to the events of the Eastern Economic Forum (WEF-5) in Vladivostok (September 4-6, this year) as the guest of honour”.

The statement further read, “We expect that the President of Mongolia H Battulga, the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of Malaysia M Mohammad and the Prime Minister of Japan S Abe will arrive in Vladivostok.”

“Overall 3 Prime Ministers and one President will be attending the forum”, the statement asserted, clarifying that Imran Khan is not among the invited leaders.

It is notable here that the Eastern Economic Forum is the international summit for which Russian President Vladimir Putin had extended an invitation to PM Modi back in January, before the general elections.

The invitation had created a stir in Indian media and political circles because it had represented the confidence asserted by PM Modi’s government over coming back to power in the May 2019 elections.

Russian president Putin had invited PM Modi to attend the forum as a special guest back in January 2019 over a telephone conversation. Putin had reiterated the invitation again in February during another formal conversation between the two leaders.

PM Modi’s Russia visit will also coincide with the 20th India-Russia annual summit. Russia’s eastern region is rich in natural resources and Russia is keen on Indian investment there, as a part of India’s act-east policy under PM Modi.

The Eastern Economic forum has been meeting since 2015 to discuss business and investments in Russia’s far east region. Putin had also mentioned in his recent address to Kremlin that PM Modi and Japan’s PM Shinzo Abe will be attending the EEF this year.

As per reports, Russia has also conveyed to India that the Pakistani reports are false and Imran Khan has not been invited to the EEF. A report in The Economic Times stated that Putin’s advisor Anton Kobyakov and Indian envoy to Russia Bala Venkatesh Varma had met on Monday to discuss preparations for the EEF.

The ET report also mentioned that PM Modi has commissioned several business missions and five chief ministers to attend the EEF with him in September.

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