Zardari to visit Iran
Islamabad: Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari will travel to Iran tomorrow to hold talks with Iranian leadership on a host of bilateral and regional issues and to speed up mega projects.
Presidential Spokesperson Farhatullah Babar said that Zardari's two-day visit was part of the ongoing contacts at the leadership level to further strengthen the bilateral relations and to consult each other on regional and international issues of concern to the two countries.
He said that the President has been urging for further strengthening of the bilateral relations and for early completion of the mega projects between the two countries and expressed the hope that the visit would lend further impetus to the efforts aimed at early completion of the bilateral projects.
The Spokesperson said in a statement that the visit is a manifestation of the great importance Pakistan attaches to its relations with Iran.
Pakistani media had earlier reported that President Zardari will sign the multi-billion gas pipeline project during the visit.
However, the official statement did not mention the project.
Reports said that a team of Pakistani experts are currently in Iran to finalise gas price and if they reached an agreement, then the President will sign a final deal.
Under the agreement, Iran would offer a loan of USD 500 million to Pakistan for the construction of a gas pipeline on its side of the border.
The US has publicly opposed the Iran gas pipeline and has advised Pakistan to go for other options.
American media reported this month that the Washington is likely to slap sanctions on Pakistan if it goes ahead with the project.
The US State Department said on Saturday that there were better options available for Pakistan than the I-P project to meet the country's growing energy demands.
But, Pakistan so far resisted the pressure and has decided to go ahead with the project.
Pakistan advisor on Petroleum, Asim Hussain says that Iran will will set up an oil refinery in Pakistan and reports suggested that President Zardari is likely to sign agreement for the refinery.
The USD 4 billion refinery is slated to be constructed in the port city of Gwadar in southwestern Balochistan with an estimated capacity of about 400,000 barrels per day.
Last week, the Iranian oil minister visited Islamabad and said Tehran would start supplying natural gas to Pakistan by December 2014.