Islamabad: Pakistan`s top leadership on Thursday
assured visiting Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that
the government is committed to a multi-billion dollar
bilateral gas pipeline project that has come under a cloud due
to sanctions imposed on Tehran by Western powers.
During a meeting with Ahmadinejad, President Asif Ali
Zardari reiterated Pakistan`s commitment to the "expeditious
implementation of the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project" and
other energy projects, including a 1000MW electricity
transmission line and a venture to supply 100MW to the port
city of Gwadar in Balochistan province.
During a separate meeting, Ahmadinejad and Prime Minister
Yousuf Raza Gilani agreed to pursue energy projects, including
the gas pipeline, on a "fast-track basis".
They reviewed the status of the pipeline project, an
official statement said.
Questions have been raised about the viability of the
pipeline project following sanctions imposed on Iran by
Western powers over its controversial nuclear programme.
The US too is pressuring Pakistan not to go ahead with
the gas pipeline project.
In a recent address at a rally, Zardari said Pakistan
would not accept any pressure aimed at curtailing its trade
relations with any country.
During his meeting with Ahmadinejad, Zardari called for
enhancing cooperation between Pakistan and Iran to promote
peace, stability and economic progress of the region and the
The two leaders reiterated their "firm resolve for
boosting mutual coordination to face common challenges",
including terrorism, drugs and narcotics trafficking and human
The Iranian leader appreciated the role Pakistan is
playing in promoting regional stability and peace.
Pakistan was an important neighbour for Iran and would
continue to get the support and assistance of his government,
Ahmadinejad and Zardari also discussed the establishment
of rail and road links, energy projects, and other ventures
for regional connectivity, presidential spokesman Farhatullah
Zardari said that enhancing bilateral cooperation,
particularly in energy and infrastructure, would help the two
countries overcome challenges and realise the goal of raising
bilateral trade to five billion dollars a year.
Zardari proposed that Iran could consider encouraging
barter and trade in local currencies as well as the removal of
tariff and non-tariff barriers.
He said Pakistan and Iran could trade in wheat,
fertilizers, cement and other commodities.
The two sides agreed to put in place effective
arrangements and better coordination between border control
authorities to prevent violent incidents on the borders.
Several Pakistanis were killed in recent incidents
involving Iranian border guards.
Pakistan and Iran discussed the opening of a new border
point at Gabd and Reemdan along the coastal highway of
The Iranian side indicated its interest in importing one
million tonnes of wheat and 200,000 tonnes of rice from
Pakistan within weeks.
Ahmadinejad arrived in Islamabad shortly after Afghan
President Hamid Karzai flew in with a high-level delegation to
participate in a trilateral summit hosted by Zardari.
The three Presidents will hold two sessions as part of
the summit, one this evening and another tomorrow.
Presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar said the
trilateral summit was a useful forum for coordination on