Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari has reaffirmed Islamabad’s determination to complete the Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline in the face of the US bids to hinder the project. At a Friday meeting with Iran's Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi in Islamabad, Zardari stressed that his country is committed to the implementation of the Pakistani joint projects with Iran, including the IP gas pipeline. He pointed to the construction of the Noushki-Delbandin road and the enhancement of the Quetta-Taftan railway as other major joint projects to be implemented by both countries. Pakistani officials have repeatedly announced their country’s resolve to fully implement the plan by 2014.
The US has been exercising leverage to lure Islamabad away from the gas pipeline project by offering cheaper gas to the country.The multi-billion-dollar gas pipeline aims to export a daily amount of 21.5 million cubic meters (or 7.8 billion cubic meters per year) of Iranian natural gas to Pakistan. Salehi visited Islamabad to extend the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s invitation to Zardari to take part in the 16th Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit on August 26-31 in the Iranian capital, Tehran. Zardari expressed his gratitude over the invitation and praised the NAM’s role in the settlement of regional and global issues. He also hailed the growing ties between Iran and Pakistan, saying the two nations have ample historical and cultural commonalities, calling for the further expansion of mutual ties. ASH/HJL/AZ