Ahmadinejad, Zardari Stress Expansion of Iran-Pakistan Ties
Fars NA –(Feb 27, 2013) Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his Pakistani counterpart Asif Ali Zardari in a meeting laid emphasis on expanding mutual cooperation between the two countries and utilizing their vast capacities in line with the interests of both nations as well as regional nations.
During the meeting in Tehran on Wednesday, the two presidents explored avenues for the further expansion of bilateral relations between Tehran and Islamabad.
President Ahmadinejad pointed to the enemies’ efforts to prevent enhancement of ties between Iran and Pakistan, and said, “Iran and Pakistan have and will stand beside each other with a strategic outlook.”
The Pakistani president, for his part, stressed expansion of brotherly ties between the two countries, and said, ” The two countries have mutual trust and consolidated relations today despite the will of all those who intend to ruin Tehran-Islamabad relations and impede our path of cooperation.”
President Zardari arrived in Tehran today to discuss bilateral ties and regional developments with the Iranian officials.
Zardari, who is heading a high-ranking delegation to Iran, is also slated to meet with Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei today before attending a dinner banquet thrown in his honor by President Ahmadinejad.
Last week, an advisor to the Pakistani prime minister on petroleum and natural resources said President Zardari “plans to pay a visit to Iran” in a bid to finalize a deal on Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project as the two countries’ oil ministers inaugurated construction of the 781-kilometer-long Pakistani side of the gas line.
Asim Hussain told reporters in Islamabad that Zardari would pay a visit to Tehran in the near future to hold talks with Iranian officials over the gas pipeline project.
The Pakistani official also stated that the project would inaugurate on due time, which is December 2014.
On Wednesday, Iranian and Pakistani oil ministers inaugurated construction of the 781 km of Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline in Pakistan’s soil.
An Iranian-Pakistani joint contractor has been commissioned to begin construction of the IP gas pipeline.
The Iranian oil minister and his accompanying delegation agreed with their Pakistani counterpart to set up a joint contracting company between the two countries in a bid to complete the construction of the IP gas pipeline in next 15 months.
The IP gas pipeline stretches from Iran-Pakistan border to Navabshah region in Pakistan and it covers 781 km of the total 1,881 km of the pipeline.
Apart from it, both countries also discussed the finances involved in the project. The interest rate for Iran’s 500-million-dollar loan to Pakistan and the date for the start of the repayment of the loan by Pakistan were among other topics in the discussions.
Demand for natural gas in Pakistan has outstripped supply in recent years, putting existing reserves under immense pressure.
The 2700-kilometer long pipeline was to supply gas for Pakistan and India which are suffering a lack of energy sources, but India has evaded talks. In 2011, Iran and Pakistan declared they would finalize the agreement bilaterally if India continued to be absent in the meeting.
According to the project proposal, the pipeline will begin from Iran’s Assalouyeh Energy Zone in the south and stretch over 1,100 km through Iran. In Pakistan, it will pass through Baluchistan and Sindh but officials now say the route may be changed if China agrees to the project.