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Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Pakistan, Iran finalize gas pipeline deal
Pakistan and Iran are like one soul in two bodies: Ahmadinejad
ISLAMABAD (APP) -- Pakistan and Iran on Monday resolved all issues regarding the $7.5 billion gas pipeline project, paving way for inking an agreement soon at a mutually agreed date in Tehran.
Iran also agreed to provide 1100 MW of electricity to Pakistan to help it overcome the shortage, particularly in areas adjoining Iran.
President Pervez Musharraf and his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in over an hour long talks at the President House deliberated on their bilateral ties, issues faced by the region and the Islamic world and the trilateral cooperation between Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan with a view to bringing peace and stability to the region.
The Iranian President who made a brief “official stopover” at Pakistan, while on his way to Sri Lanka, led a high-level delegation including its Foreign and Commerce Ministers, besides its Minister for Petroleum and head of EXIM Bank of Iran.
The two leaders held an exclusive meeting. Later they were joined by their respective delegations.
Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi later told reporters that the talks were positive and covered all aspects of their wide ranging relationship.
“The two leaders said the IPI project will promote peace and friendship,” Qureshi said and added that the two foreign ministers have been tasked to agree on a mutually convenient date for signing the agreement.
He said the two leaders expressed satisfaction over the resolution of all issues that had delayed a final agreement and hoped the project will help meet future energy needs of Pakistan.
Iran also gave a positive response about the Pakistani proposal for allowing a gas pipeline through its territory to provide gas to China, along the historic Karakoram Highway, to help it meet its growing industrial needs, Qureshi said.
The Iranian President said his country will provide 1100 MW of electricity to Pakistan to help it meet its needs, particularly in Gwadar and adjoining areas. Currently Iran is providing 35 MW for areas adjoining the Pakistan-Iran border.
The two leaders also discussed the situation in Afghanistan and stressed that peace and stability was vital for the region.
President Musharraf and President Ahmadinejad reviewed their economic relations and said that they need to be further upgraded to bring these at par with their political and diplomatic ties.
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said the two countries already have a Preferential Trade Agreement and a Joint Investment Company and hoped the trade will soon touch the one billion dollar mark.
About Pakistan’s stance on Iran’s nuclear issue, he said “we support Iran’s use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, under the IAEA guidelines.”
During the talks President Musharraf was assisted by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Minister for Water and Power Raja Pervez Ashraf and senior officials.
The Iranian delegation including Ministers for Foreign Affairs and Commerce, the Vice President and Chairman of Archaeology and Tourism Department and Deputy Ministers for Water and Power and Petroleum assisted President Ahmadinejad.
Later President Ahmadinejad met Pakistan’s Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani at the Prime Minster House and vowed to further strengthen their bilateral, regional and economic relations besides cooperation in energy.
Gilani said early materialization of the Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline agreement will usher in prosperity and further bring the regional countries closer. Talking to President Ahmadinejad PM Gilani said Pakistan was keen to promote bilateral relations with Iran in all fields and said it would purchase more electricity from Iran to help meet its growing energy needs.
He said Iran was an important country and Pakistan values its cooperation with it for promoting peace and stability in the region.
The two leaders also discussed regional and international issues.
On the issue of terrorism and extremism, the Prime Minister said the government was pursuing a comprehensive policy to overcome the menace.
The multi-pronged strategy includes political dialogue, socio-economic development and security measures to effectively confront the problems, he said.
The Prime Minister referred to the dire need for food and energy security and said the two countries need to work together to meet these challenges.
He said Pakistan and Iran should further promote their brotherly ties as they share common faith, history, culture and heritage.
President Ahmadinejad congratulated Prime Minister Gilani on assuming his office and said Iran accords high priority to its relations with Pakistan and would like to further enhance them in all fields particularly commerce and trade.
He said the existing bilateral relations between the two countries need to be enhanced to their true potential.
The Iranian President said Iran believes that the progress and prosperity of Pakistan and Iran were inter-linked as they were like one soul in two bodies.
He said the agreement on IPI will soon be finalized and his government will welcome inclusion of China in the project. He said Iran would extend its cooperation in the field of food and energy sectors besides promotion of trade and economic ties.
President Ahmadinejad expressed his condolences over the tragic death of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto.
He extended invitation to the Prime Minister to visit Iran.
The Iranian delegation included Foreign Minister Monouchehr Mottaki, Commerce Minister Mir Kazemi, Vice President Esfandyar Rahim Mashai’e, Sr. Advisor to President Mojtaba Hashemi and Ambassador Mashallah Shakeri.
From Pakistan side the meeting was attended by Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Minister for Water and Power Raja Pervaiz Ashraf (Minister-in-waiting) and senior officials.
Prime Minister Gilani following the talks hosted a luncheon in honor of the Iranian President at the Prime Minister House.
Earlier, the Iranian President upon arrival at the President House was received by President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani.
A red carpet was rolled out for President Ahmadinejad as he arrived at the President House. A smartly turned-out contingent of the armed forces presented him salute. Iranian President reviewed the guard of honor. National anthems of the two countries were played.
President Musharraf introduced the Iranian President with members of the federal cabinet and other senior officials