No bilateral meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan will be taking place next week in Beijing. Both leaders will be in the city for the start of the Winter Olympics, diplomatically boycotted by the west. Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov to Russia's TASS said, "I would like to reiterate that there are no bilateral meetings on President Putin’s schedule, except for full-scale talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping". President Putin will be in China on 4th February and also hold summit-level talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
The controversial mega sporting event in China will see many world leaders attending the opening. Leaders of all 5 Central Asian countries, Monaco, Papua New Guinea, Mongolia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE are among the world leaders to attend the opening of the Beijing winter Olympics.
According to Pakistani sources, both sides were quite keen that the meeting happens in China but owing to covid-19 protocols and restrictions, the in-person meeting is not being held. Peskov as quoted by Tass said "Ceremony’s organizers have to impose a number of severe restrictions both on athletes and guests, including officials", explaining, "so the Russian president’s schedule for the Beijing trip does not include any bilateral meetings for obvious reasons".
Earlier this month Pakistani PM had spoken to the Russian President. According to the Kremlin readout, "the discussion focused on the development of Russian-Pakistani ties in different areas, including trade, the economy, energy, and the humanitarian sphere, as well as combatting the spread of the coronavirus infection."
This is the 2nd time plans for a bilateral have not come to fruition. Imran Khan and Vladimir Putin were to meet at the sidelines of the SCO Summit in Dushanbe in September 2021 but the meeting could not take place in person because the Russian President pulled out of the summit last minute following a COVID-19 case outbreak in his inner circle.