Pakistan PM renews commitment to Iran pipeline

Islamabad (Dawn/ANN) - Pakistan and Iran reiterated yesterday their commitment to complete their trans-border gas pipeline project despite US opposition and pressure.

According to sources, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and Iranian Vice president Mohammad Javad Mohammadizadeh expressed their deep desire for speedy completion of the project and also decided to help each other in exploring avenues of alternative financial support.

Their meeting was the first high-level contact between the two countries after a consortium led by the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China reportedly backed off last month from providing financial advisory services for the project apparently because of US opposition to the plan.

The Iranian leader said his country had completed its part of the work on the pipeline and urged Pakistan to expedite it on its side. The prime minister arrived here on Saturday night to attend the Boao forum for Asia.

The United States and European Union are pressurising Pakistan to drop the project because of what they call Iran's nuclear ambitions. The West has imposed sanctions on Iran and multinational companies doing business with Iran.

Talking to Dawn, a minister accompanying Gilani said: "We are under tremendous pressure from the US to shelve the project but frankly speaking we don't have other workable options at the moment to meet our energy needs."

The minister said that during recent talks with US officials who wanted restoration of Nato supply lines, the government had urged them to either help Pakistan meet its energy needs or let it go ahead with the pipeline project. Pakistan is yet to receive any firm commitment from the US on the energy issue.

"If the Afghan war is important to President Obama as he heads towards his re-election, we also have general elections within a year and we need to have something to present to our voters. Would any government like to go into elections with people protesting on roads?"

According to the sources, Prime Minister Gilani and the Iranian vice-president also discussed the Afghan issue and called for joint efforts for peace and prosperity in the region.

The prime minister also stressed the need for addressing issues such as extremism and drug trafficking in the region. He said his government had declared Jundullah a terrorist organisation and would take every possible measure against it.

A plan to open Pakistan's consulate in Bandar Abbas was also discussed.

Pakistan, the prime minister said, wanted to increase the volume of trade with Iran to $5 billion.

He supported Iran's pursuit of nuclear technology for peaceful use.

The Iranian vice-president called for greater people-to-people contacts between the two nations.

He said Iran appreciated Pakistan's efforts to play a positive role in the region with its stance of peaceful co-existence.

He also called for enhancing connectivity among Pakistan, Iran and Turkey.

Prime Minister Gilani also sought China's help for completing the gas pipeline.

During a meeting with China's Executive Vice-Premier Li Keqiang, he sought help for small and medium energy projects.

Prime Minister Gilani is one of the key speakers at the opening session of the forum scheduled for Monday. He will speak on this year's theme, "Asia in the changing world: Moving towards sound and sustainable development".

COPYRIGHT: ASIA NEWS NETWORK

  • Thursday #sgroundup: Body found of boy who made first call from Korea ferry: report 26 minutes ago
    Thursday #sgroundup: Body found of boy who made first call from Korea ferry: report

    Here are today’s top trending stories in case you missed them.

  • Look, don't touch: Flickr photo of the day 11 hours ago
    Look, don't touch: Flickr photo of the day

    If there's one car that's particularly sought-after among today's well-heeled car collectors, a Ferrari 250 would be it. Usually it's the GTO variant, like the 1963 that sold for a record $52 million last year. A 250 of any sorts demands unfathomable cash, however, which is why we can but gawk at this 250 Testa Rossa. It's as close as any mere mortal will ever come to owning one.

  • Peeling out at Octane Academy, the free driving school for Ford ST owners 12 hours ago
    Peeling out at Octane Academy, the free driving school for Ford ST owners

    Buyers of Ferraris or Jaguars are used to perks from manufacturers – including racetrack lessons to help master their exotic machines. But for enthusiasts on a tighter budget, the Ford ST Octane Academy might be the sweetest deal in motoring: Buy a Ford Fiesta ST or Focus ST hatchback, and the reward is a free day of training at one of America’s longest, most-lavish road courses.

  • David Moyes statement after Man United firing
    David Moyes statement after Man United firing

    Statement released by David Moyes on Wednesday, a day after Manchester United announced he left as manager after less than a season in charge.

  • Pirates kidnap three on Singapore tanker off Malaysia
    Pirates kidnap three on Singapore tanker off Malaysia

    Armed pirates boarded a Singapore-managed oil tanker in the Strait of Malacca, kidnapping three Indonesian crew and stealing some of the vessel's shipment of diesel fuel, the International Maritime Bureau said Wednesday. The attack occurred early Tuesday off Malaysia's west coast, said Noel Choong, head of IMB's Kuala Lumpur-based piracy reporting centre. The diesel oil tanker was believed to be en route to Myanmar. "IMB is aware of the attack on the Singapore-managed ship in the Malacca Straits.

  • Indonesian general says his flashy watch is a fake
    Indonesian general says his flashy watch is a fake

    JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesia's military commander said critics who called him out for wearing an especially luxurious watch should be quiet because the timepiece is actually a cheap Chinese fake.