Pak crisis: opportunity for Russia to improve relation with West

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Moscow, Jan 3 (UNI) The current crisis in Pakistan following the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, provides Russia with an opportunity to improve its relations with the West, a leading expert said.

Commenting on the situation in Pakistan, Director of the Institute of Political Studies, Sergei Markov, told Russian daily Komsomolskaya Pravada that developments in Pakistan would not affect Russia in the near future.

Mr Markov, however, added that the Kremlin could face a multitude of problems if Islamists who ''hate'' President Pervez Musharraf take over or otherwise make it into the corridors of power.

International politics would change drastically because Islamic leaders in Pakistan, a nuclear power, would be a threat to all countries, he warned, adding, ''Russia could face a surge of radicalism''.

Russia had an opportunity to improve relations with the West and the lack of major threats enabled the United States and the European Union to press ahead with Kosovo's independence, to influence the situation in Georgia and Ukraine and deploy elements of the missile defence system near Russian borders.

He said Moscow, Washington and Brussels would have common interests if radical Islamists took over in Pakistan.

Mr Markov also stressed that the current developments showed that the US policy had failed in Pakistan.

''Instead of rubbing its hands with joy, Russia should offer advice to its partners and should use its position to maintain regional stability,'' he said.

UNI XC SYU RN1856

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