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Pakistan, Iran agree to continue gas pipeline project

12 May, 2014

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TEHRAN: Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and President of Iran Hassan Rouhani on Sunday agreed to continue with the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project, as it was beneficial for the people of both the countries.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif informed the Iranian president that he was there with his finance, petroleum and interior team to resolve all matters which were a hindrance in the project.Both leaders reiterated their commitment to enhance bilateral trade during the meeting held at Saadabad Palace.

Nawaz said there was a lot of scope for increasing the trade volume and they wanted to enhance it to new levels of $5 billion. He said Pakistan-Iran relations were bound by historical and religious linkages.

"I am here to open a new chapter in the Pakistan-Iran relationship," he said, adding, "As prime minister, I visited Iran first in 1999 and have always found the Iranians more affectionate on every visit."

President Rouhani said Iran-Pakistan relations had historical connections. Apart from being neighbouring countries, he said both Muslim countries have common traditions and their relations based on the Holy Quran and the traditions of the Holy Prophet (PBUH).

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's visit would further boost the brotherly relations between the two countries, he added.Federal Minister for Finance Ishaq Dar, Federal Minister for Petroleum Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Governor Balochistan Mahmood Khan Achakzai, Advisor to PM on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz and Special Assistant to PM Tariq Fatemi were also present during the meeting.

The prime minister told the Iranian president that some miscreants were trying to sabotage the brotherly relations between the two countries and they would be dealt with sternly.Premier Nawaz said: "We want security for development and development for security".

President Rouhani also affirmed his government's support adding that peace in the region was their common goal. He said they would support Pakistan to develop and become more secure. Both the leaders also discussed border security matters between the two countries.

They agreed that better border management and improved security measures would result in increased bilateral trade and an enhanced relationship and cooperation between the two countries.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif extended invitation to President Rouhani to visit Pakistan which was accepted by the President.Later, the Iranian president hosted a luncheon in honour of the prime minister and the visiting delegation.

Earlier upon arrival, the prime minister was given a warm welcome at Mehrabad International Airport. The prime minister was received by Minister for Economic Affairs and Finance Ali Tayyabnia. The official welcoming ceremony was held at Saadabad Palace where a smartly turned out contingent presented guard of honour to the prime minister.

The prime minister also held a meeting with First Vice President of Iran Eshaq Jehangiri in which matters of mutual and bilateral interest were discussed.

Online adds: Pakistan has requested Iran to soften penalties concerning the gas pipeline project besides seeking Iranian financial assistance for the project.

According to sources, Federal Finance Minister Ishaq Dar endeavored to convince Iranian officials on the gas pipeline project because Iran had offered such financing to former PPP-led government; however, when the PML-N government tried to carry the initiative ahead, Iran excused itself citing its economic crisis.

The Pakistani delegation would also be trying to coax Iranian officials to waive off time limit for completion of Pakistan's part of pipeline by Jan 1, 2015, failing which Pakistan would be fined in accordance with gas volumes due to Pakistan.

Pakistan could be liable to fines up to $3 million daily if it fails to honor its part of pipeline construction.Pakistan and Iran have signed eight agreements and memoranda of understating in different fields to further strengthen relations between the two countries.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Iranian First Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri witnessed the signing ceremony held in Tehran on Sunday.These agreements and MOUs include: Agreement on Transfer of Offenders, MOUs on Anti-Money Laundering, Statistical Cooperation, Renewal of the Cultural Exchange Programme, Sports Cooperation, Cooperation in Preventing and Combating Pollution from Ships, and Establishment of Joint Border Commission.

End.

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