Pak assures Iran on gas pipeline project
Last Updated: Thursday, February 16, 2012, 23:36
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 two countries.

The two leaders reiterated their "firm resolve for boosting mutual coordination to face common challenges", including terrorism, drugs and narcotics trafficking and human smuggling.

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, he said.

Ahmadinejad and Zardari also discussed the establishment of rail and road links, energy projects, and other ventures for regional connectivity, presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar said.

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 Pakistan.

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 Afghanistan.


First Published: Thursday, February 16, 2012, 23:36

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