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Russian forces arrive in Pakistan for third joint military drill

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ISLAMABAD (PTI): A Russian Army contingent arrived in Islamabad on Monday to take part in the third edition of a joint bilateral military training exercise, the Pakistan Army said.

The two armies will be holding joint military drills in the mountains of northwestern Pakistan which will continue till November 4.

This will be the third joint military drill between Pakistan and Russia under the bilateral training cooperation agreement, according to a statement issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the media wing of the Pakistan Army.

"Russian Army Contingent arrived in Pakistan to participate in the Pak-Russia Joint Training Exercise 'Druzhba-III'," the statement added.

The Army did not provide any further details about the drills.

Earlier, the Russian Army said that drill will be held at the training range in Nowshera district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and over 70 soldiers from Russia's southern military district will participate.

The servicemen from the two countries' armed forces will perform tasks at the altitude of 1,400 meters above the sea level.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Army said that the third exercise was part of the Pak-Russia bilateral training cooperation.

The two sides are trying to bolster defence ties and in August this year they inked an agreement allowing Pakistani troops to train in Russia.

The agreement was signed during the visit of Deputy Defence Minister of Russia Colonel General Alexander Fomin to Islamabad to participate in the first Russia-Pakistan Joint Military Consultative Committee (JMCC) meeting on security and defence.

Russia and Pakistan have been holding the 'Friendship' drills since 2016. In October 2016, they held their first-ever joint military exercise in Pakistan. In 2017, over 200 servicemen took part in the drills, hosted by Russia at Minralney Vody in the North Caucasus at an altitude of 2,300 meters above sea level.

Pakistan's defence ties with Russia have moved past the bitter Cold War hostilities in recent years and the chill in the relations between Pakistan and the US has further pushed the country towards Russia and China.

Pakistan has shown eagerness to build defence level ties with Russia.

Russia has over the past three years provided four Mi-35M combat and cargo helicopters to Pakistan.

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