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India need not worry about Russia-Pak military drills: Russia

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MOSCOW (PTI): India need not worry about the planned Russia-Pakistan joint military exercises as these drills will not be carried out in disputed areas, a senior Russian diplomat has said.

Russia thinks India should not be concerned about upcoming Russia-Pakistan joint military exercises, the Russian Foreign Ministry's director of the Second Asian Department Zamir Kabulov said.

The joint military exercises, dubbed as 'Friendship-2016', are tactical drills which will be held from September 24 to October 7 in the Army High Altitude School in northern Pakistan's Rattu and at a special forces training center in Cherat area.

The exercises aim to strengthen and develop cooperation between the two former Cold War rivals' armed forces.

"We were informed by the Russian Defense Ministry that these exercises will not be carried out in (disputed) areas, and a place was chosen that has nothing to do with this. Hence there is no reason for India to worry about it," Kabulov was quoted as saying Russia's state-run Sputnik news agency.

Kabulov said Moscow had informed New Delhi of the regions where the exercises with Pakistan were planned to take place.

Around 200 military personnel from the two sides would take part in the joint military exercises.

The move comes amidst increasing defence ties between Moscow and Islamabad as the latter was also thinking to buy advanced Russian warplanes.

The joint military drill is seen as another step in growing military-to-military cooperation, indicating a steady growth in bilateral relationship between the two countries, whose ties had been marred by Cold War rivalry for decades.

Islamabad is eager to improve its ties with Moscow to diversify its options in the event of any stalemate in ties with Washington.

After securing a deal of MI-35 helicopters, Pakistan is also exploring options to buy Su-35 fighter jets from Russia, Pakistani media reported recently.

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