Iran backs Pakistan pipeline deal sans India

October 11, 2008

ISLAMABAD (AP/APP) -- Iran says it is willing to build a pipeline to export natural gas to Pakistan even if India delays joining the multibillion-dollar project opposed by the U.S.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki announced the offer Friday during a visit to Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad. Both countries said India would be welcome to join the $7.5 billion project at a later stage, the Associated Press reported.
The proposed pipeline would run 1,625 miles from Iran to India through Pakistan. Pakistan hopes the pipeline will help it meet its growing energy needs.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani said pipeline project was of strategic significance and stressed fast track progress on it for the economic benefit of the two countries, the Associated Press of Pakistan reported.
Talking to Foreign Minister Mottaki he welcomed President Ahmedinejad’s desire in his meeting with President Zardari to proceed with the project on fast track basis.
Mottaki assured the Prime Minister that Iran was determined to proceed with pipeline project and hoped that during his visit the remaining issues relating to the project would also be resolved.
Gilani emphasized that Pakistan wants the project to be initiated bilaterally between Pakistan and Iran while India could join afterwards whenever it so desires.
The two sides, he said, should work earnestly for the early establishment of the Joint Financing Company for the project. All outstanding issues must be resolved quickly and the Gas Sales and Purchase Agreement (GSPA) signed as early as possible.
Gilani said Pakistan attaches great importance to its brotherly relations with Iran, rooted in common history, culture, geography and faith.
Mottaki meanwhile termed the stability and security of Pakistan as stability and security of Iran.
The Iranian Foreign Minister condemned the terrorist incidents that took place in the last several weeks in Pakistan, targeting its stability.
He said every body will loose from the instability and insecurity.
Mottaki also agreed with the Prime Minister on the need for expansion of relations in political, trade, investment, culture and other fields.
Referring to President Asif Ali Zardari’s recent meeting with President Ahmedinejad in New York, he recalled that President Zardari had extended an invitation to his Iranian counterpart to visit Pakistan and hoped the visit will soon materialize.
Talking about the existing economic relations between the two countries Gilani regretted that despite the existence of institutional framework, bilateral economic and trade relations have remained far below their true potential.
Gilani said the bilateral trade has not touched one billion dollars mark and the overall cooperation in other economic fields was not commensurate with the warmth in political relations.
The Prime Minister urged enhanced people-to-people relations and called for more exchanges between the parliamentarians of Pakistan and Iran.
Gilani also underscored the importance of further strengthening of bilateral cooperation and cultural ties between the two countries.
Iranian Foreign Minister extended invitation of Iranian President and Senior Vice President to the Prime Minister to visit Iran. The Prime Minister accepted the invitation and informed him that time frame of the visit will be decided through diplomatic channels.
The meeting was attended by the Foreign Minister of Pakistan Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Ambassador of Iran in Pakistan and senior officials.
Earlier, Pakistan requested Iran to help to meet its growing energy crisis by giving oil on deferred payment. The request was made by Foreign Minister Qureshi during his talks with the visiting Foreign Minister.
Talking to newsmen jointly after the meeting, Qureshi said Iran has already a system of three month deferred payment but Pakistan has requested to increase this time period.
Qureshi said his counterpart has agreed to take up the issue with his government and the cabinet for increasing the time limit for the deferred payment.
The Pakistani Foreign Minister said the gas pipeline project was of strategic significance and as it has been agreed between in a meeting of President of Pakistan and Iran in New York last month.
The Foreign Minister said Pakistan is committed to the project and would go ahead even the third party did not join it at initial stages. He however appreciated India’s decision to join the project.
He stressed that Pakistan wants that pipeline project should be initiated bilaterally between Pakistan and Iran while India could join afterwards whenever it so desires.
The Minister said both the countries also agreed to establish a Joint Financing Company for the project.
Referring to the outstanding issues relating to gas pipeline, the Foreign Minister said out of the five issues, four have been resolved while the fifth issue relating to pricing of the gas being sorted out and it would be settled soon.
The Minister said both the countries also agreed to enhance people-to-people relations between the two countries and called for more exchanges between the parliamentarians of Pakistan and Iran and decided to further strengthen infrastructure facilities.
Shah Mahmood Qureshi said Pakistan has also interested to buy additional 1000 MW electricity from Iran.
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said, “We condemn terrorist activities that took place in the last several weeks in Pakistan, targeting stability of our neighboring country Pakistan.”
The Iranian Foreign Minister however said efforts should be made to consider root cause of such terrorist attacks and other happenings based on the war against terror.
He said Iran has a lot of promises in Afghanistan but the policies of last seven years to tackle this issue have failed. He said being two important neighbors, Pakistan and Iran have to take measures to cooperate and help each other to ensure stability and security in the region.
The Iranian Minister said political will and determination of the leaders of Pakistan and Iran should be given due consideration and realized to resolve this issue.
Referring to the importance of 1000 km border between Pakistan and Iran, the Foreign Minister said, “We have to protect it, because of projects like IPI, road and railway links.”
The Iranian Foreign Minister said, “We will not allow any person or group of any other name to violate this border to suffer the people of both sides of border.”
Foreign Minister Mottaki termed the stability and security of Pakistan as stability and security of Iran.
He agreed on the need for expansion in relations in political, trade, investment, culture and other fields.