Nirupama Subramanian

Inclusion of China

in the project

discussed

“Pipeline will promote peace and friendship”

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Iran are of the view that all outstanding issues relating to the Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline have been resolved and a final agreement on the project can now be signed, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said after a meeting between President Pervez Musharraf and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Monday.

The two leaders also discussed the inclusion of China in the project, and the Iranian leader “welcomed” President Musharraf’s proposal that China could join the project, a Foreign Ministry release said.

Mr. Ahmadinejad was in the Pakistan capital for a brief official stopover en route to Sri Lanka, after which he is due in New Delhi. He also met Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gillani.

The Foreign Ministry said both Presidents decided that the agreement on over the IPI gas pipeline project would be signed soon. According to the Ministry’s release, Prime Minister Gillani, in his meeting with President Ahmadinejad, emphasised that the signing of the agreement would add a new dynamic to cooperation between Pakistan and Iran in the energy sector.

“It was agreed that the Foreign Ministers of the two countries would meet soon to discuss and fix dates for its signing,” the release stated.

Tehran will also supply 1100 MW to Pakistan to mitigate an acute power shortage which has led to unprecedented loadshedding in all parts of the country, including the privileged capital city.

President Musharraf and Mr Ahmadinejad in their hour-long talks discussed the pipeline project, bilateral issues, the situation in Afghanistan and other issues faced by the region, the official release said.

“The good thing that came out of the meeting is that both sides reiterated that the gas pipeline will promote peace and friendship between the two countries,” Mr. Qureshi told reporters later.

“They recognised that all outstanding issues have been resolved and the Iranian President will soon invite the Pakistan President to Tehran where an agreement will be signed,” he said.

The Foreign Minister said Iran gave a positive response to the Pakistani proposal for allowing a gas pipeline through its territory to provide gas to China, along the historic Karakoram Highway.

The Iranian President said his country would provide 1100 MW to Pakistan. Iran at present provides 35 MW to areas in Pakistan near the shared border.

Economic ties

Pakistan and Iran also agreed to improve their economic ties in order to take their bilateral trade to the $1-billion mark

Mr. Qureshi reiterated Pakistan’s position that “we support Iran’s use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, under the IAEA guidelines.”