Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari says the completion of the Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline project tops Islamabad’s agenda. Zardari made the remark in a meeting with Ali-Akbar Velayati, a senior advisor to Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, in Islamabad on Wednesday.
“Completing the construction of the [Iran-Pakistan] gas pipeline on Pakistani soil and the implementation of this major project is among the work priorities of the country,” he added.The Pakistani president also stressed the importance of relations between Tehran and Islamabad, saying his country aims to further promote ties with Iran. Heading a high-ranking political delegation, Velayati arrived in Pakistan on Wednesday for a three-day visit and was welcomed by Pakistani Foreign Ministry officials as well as Iran’s Ambassador to Islamabad Alireza Haqiqian. The IP gas pipeline, projected to cost about USD 1.2 to 1.5 billion, will enable the export of 21.5 million cubic meters of Iranian natural gas to Pakistan on a daily basis. Iran has already built more than 900 kilometers of the pipeline on its soil. Iranian Deputy Oil Minister Javad Owji said on January 29, 2013 that Tehran would finance and help build the 700-kilometer tranche of the gas pipeline on the Pakistani side. “Aside from a 250-million-dollar loan, Iran will also provide the supplies and equipment necessary for the construction of the part of the pipeline on Pakistani soil,” Owji added. He said Iran would also help Pakistan by providing financial aid while the Iranian private sector begins work to construct this pipeline. “With the agreement of Tehran and Islamabad, within the next few days, operations for the construction of the Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline will begin on this neighboring country’s soil,” the Iranian official pointed out. TNP/HGH/SL