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Putin Skips Pakistan Summit on Tight Schedule, Not Gazprom Snub

Russian President Vladimir Putin skipped a summit with regional counterparts in Pakistan because of his tight schedule, according to Yuri Ushakov, his foreign policy aide.

Putin’s absence wasn’t related to a refusal to grant state-run OAO Gazprom a contract to help build a gas pipeline from Iran to India through Pakistan, Ushakov said. The Kommersant newspaper today reported the president canceled the visit because of the snub to Gazprom, citing unidentified people familiar with the matter.

Pakistan has struggled to finance the $1.3 billion project, already delayed by a decade, to fight power blackouts that have crimped economic growth. The South Asian nation and Russia have held talks about the link.

Russia is also concerned that it doesn’t damage relations with India, a strategic partner that is antagonistic toward Pakistan, the newspaper said.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is traveling to Islamabad to meet with his counterpart from Pakistan on Oct. 3 and 4, as relations between the countries develop “actively,” according to a statement today on the ministry’s website. The two nations are building both bilateral and multilateral ties through the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and meetings with Afghanistan and Tajikistan.

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