Islamabad seeks progress on IP gas pipeline: Pakistan FM

TEHRAN, May 14 (MNA) – Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said his country wants to make progress on the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline, however, there are hurdles in the way.

“Pakistan wants to make progress on a multi-billion-dollar Iran-Pakistan Gas Pipeline project, however, there are third party hurdles in the form of sanctions against Iran,” Qureshi briefed a session of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs in Islamabad on Tuesday.

“Pakistan is currently discussing this issue with Iran,” FM Qureshi said.

Expressing concern for the tension between Iran and the United States, he said the issue has impacted the joint project.

Pakistan is closely observing the situation and will formulate strategy keeping in view the national interest, the foreign minister said.

According to reports, a delegation from Tehran will visit Islamabad by early June to discuss the stalled the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project.

“The talks will be held on a technical level,” Interstate Gas Company Managing Director Mobin Saulat said on Monday.

Iran has given a notice to Islamabad in February this year that it would take the case to the International Court of Justice over Pakistan’s failure to lay down the pipeline in Pakistani territory in the timeframe stipulated in the bilateral agreement.

Saulat said Pakistan had up till August this year to legally respond to Iran’s notice and settle the issue through negotiations.

Pakistan and Iran signed the agreement in 2009 and the project had to be completed by December 2014.

For years, the two neighbors have been struggling to complete the gas pipeline to help resolve Pakistan’s mounting electricity problems.

The Iran-Pakistan pipeline project - also called Peace Pipeline - is a 1,957-kilometer pipeline that will deliver natural gas from Iran’s South Pars fields to Pakistan's two major cities -- Karachi and Multan.

Tehran has fulfilled its commitment regarding the construction of the gas pipeline inside Iranian territory (1,172km pipeline from Asalouyeh to the joint border) and is waiting for Islamabad to do its share and complete the 785km on its territory.

However, Pakistan has halted the project citing sanctions imposed on Iran. This is while the country needs Iran gas to feed its power plants and help improve its power sector that is in an eternal state of crisis.

MR/IRN83314236

News Code 145270

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