Ahmadinejad visits Pak

April 28th, 2008 - 5:05 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Pervez Musharraf

Islamabad, April 28 (IANS) Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who visited Islamabad Monday on a four-hour “official stopover” on way to Sri Lanka held meetings with the top Pakistani leadership with a focus on the proposed Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline. “The President discussed the issue with President Pervez Musharraf where they agreed to sign the agreement soon on the pipeline,” Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told reporters after the one-hour meeting at the presidency.

Both President Musharraf and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani received Ahmadinejad who came on his first official visit to Pakistan. This was the first high-level visit here after the formation of the new government by the Pakistan Peoples Party-led coalition.

Qureshi said that in his meeting with Musharraf, the Iranian President discussed the $7.5 billion gas pipeline project paving way for inking an agreement soon on a mutually agreed date in Tehran.

Another official said the Iranian leader told his Pakistani counterpart that he will have a similar stopover in India on his way back from Sri Lanka and would try to convince the Indian leadership on the gas pipeline.

However, the official said that if India declined to “participate in the project at this stage, Pakistan and Iran will go ahead with the project and may consider including China in it.

Musharraf, during his recent visit to China, discussed the possibility of an Iran-Pakistan-China gas pipeline to which Beijing showed “great” interest, said the official.

Iran also agreed to provide 1100 MW of electricity to Pakistan to help it overcome prevailing shortage, particularly in areas adjoining Iran.

The leaders deliberated on bilateral ties, issues faced by the region and the Islamic world and the trilateral cooperation between Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan with a view to bringing peace and stability to the region.

The Iranian President led a high-level delegation including his Foreign and Commerce Ministers, besides the Minister for Petroleum and head of EXIM Bank of Iran.

Qureshi told reporters that the talks were positive and covered all aspects of their wide-ranging relationship.

“The two leaders said the IPI project will promote peace and friendship,” Qureshi said and added that the two foreign ministers have been tasked to agree on a mutually convenient date for signing the agreement.

He said the two leaders expressed satisfaction over the resolution of all issues that had delayed a final agreement and hoped the project will help meet future energy needs of Pakistan.

Iran also gave a positive response about the Pakistani proposal for allowing a gas pipeline through its territory to provide gas to China, along the historic Karakoram Highway, to help it meet its growing industrial needs, Qureshi said.

The Iranian President said his country will provide 1100 MW of electricity to Pakistan to help it meet its needs, particularly in Gwadar and adjoining areas. Currently, Iran is providing 35 MW for areas adjoining the Pak-Iran border.

The two leaders also discussed the situation in Afghanistan and stressed that peace and stability was vital for the region.

President Musharraf and President Ahmadinejad reviewed their economic relations and said they need to be further upgraded to bring these at par with their political and diplomatic ties.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said the two countries already have a Preferential Trade Agreement and a Joint Investment Company and hoped the trade will soon touch the $one billion mark.

About Pakistan’s stance on Iran’s nuclear issue, he said: “We support Iran’s use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, under the IAEA guidelines.”

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