Pakistan’s Zardari to visit Iran on Monday for gas line ground-breakingSouce:Xinhua Publish By Thomas Whittle Updated 11/03/2013 3:24 am in World / no comments
ISLAMABAD, March 10 — Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari will visit Iran on Monday to join the ground-breaking ceremony of the Iran gas pipeline project, the Petroleum Ministry said Sunday.
The ceremony will be held in the Iranian border city of Chahbahar on Monday in the afternoon, according to details released by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources in Islamabad.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Mr. Zardari will jointly inaugurate the construction of the pipeline.
President Zardari will be accompanied by a big delegation of ministers, members of parliament, political leaders, senior officials and journalists, officials said.
The Pakistani Foreign Ministry said last week that several Heads of State have also been invited.
The Foreign Ministry spokesman rejected the impression that Pakistan is in a fix over the project.
“We are very clear about this project. It is in our national interest to go ahead with this project,” he said at the weekly briefing on Thursday.
He said Pakistan, being an energy deficient country, is suffering both economically and socially.
To a question about U.S. pressure, the spokesman had stated that Islamabad knows about some concerns but “we expect and hope that all our friends including the U.S. would show more understanding on the issue”.
President Zardari also said this month that his energy-starved country will pursue the multi-billion U.S. dollars gas pipeline project with Iran despite strong U.S. opposition.
Zardari’s latest statement came days after the U.S. State Department advised Pakistan to look for other energy options instead of the Iran gas project.
Section of the American media has also reported that Washington is likely to slap sanctions on Pakistan if it pushes through with the 7.5 billion U.S. dollars pipeline project with Iran.
Pakistani media has reported that Tehran has agreed to provide a 500 million U.S. dollars loan to partially finance construction of the pipeline on the Pakistan side, which will cost 1.5 billion U.S. dollars. Pakistan will shoulder the remaining cost from its own resources.
Pakistan and Iranian officials have already agreed to complete the project by mid-2014.
Iran has already completed the pipeline in its territory while the laying of 785-km long Pakistani section will start shortly.
Pakistan plans to import 21.5 million cubic meters of gas daily from Iran through the pipeline.