Islamabad, July 13 (IANS) The Pakistan Foreign Office has expressed ignorance about a reported but unprecedented meeting of spy chiefs of Russia, Iran, China and Pakistan here over the growing threat to the region from the Islamic State in Afghanistan.
Officials, however, privately confirmed to Dawn newspaper that the meeting took place on Tuesday, “which could besides dealing with IS provide a basis for greater regional cooperation for peace in Afghanistan”.
The meeting, which was supposed to be secret, was first reported by Russian newswire TASS. The Voice of America (VoA) also carried a report on the meeting.
TASS quoted Russian Foreign Intelligence Service spokesman Sergei Ivanov as saying that heads of intelligence services of Russia, Iran, China and Pakistan met in Islamabad to discuss measures against of Islamic State terrorists returning from Iraq and Syria in Afghanistan.
TASS said that the Director of the Foreign Intelligence Service, Sergei Naryshkin, represented Russia at the meeting.
“The discussions focused on the dangers arising from a build-up of the Islamic State on Afghan territory,” Ivanov said.
Russia has been extremely worried about threats from the Islamic State emanating from the war-ravaged Afghanistan, the Dawn said. Its officials held a number of meetings with Pakistani officials before the latest quadrilateral event.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had in February raised the issue of the Islamic State expanding its footprint in Afghanistan during the visit of then Pakistani Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif to Moscow.
“Pakistan, it is said, had also been discussing the matter with China and Iran. In those meetings, Pakistan had expressed alarm over relocation of IS terrorists from Syria and Iraq to Afghanistan, particularly its north-eastern parts,” the report said.
The meeting of the spymasters of the four countries took many, particularly the US, by surprise, the Dawn said.
Russia and Iran have played a major role in the defeat of Islamic State both in Syria and Iraq.