TEHRAN: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani underlined Tehran’s enthusiasm for increasing development of the relations and cooperation with Pakistan, especially in the political and economic fields.
“Iran is ready to expand political and economic relations with Pakistan in a move to further promote and develop the level of economic cooperation between the two countries,” Rouhani said in a meeting with Islamabad’s incoming Ambassador to Tehran Noor Muhammad Jadmani on Saturday.
He hailed the age-old and historical relations with Pakistan, and expressed the hope that cooperation between the two countries would further enhance in the light of increased security and stability in Pakistan.
Jadmani, for his part, announced that Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif plans to visit Iran in the near future. “In addition to its serious will to develop economic relations and cooperation with Iran, Pakistan is determined to fight terrorism”, which had been a major concern for both the states, he said.
Iran and Pakistan already enjoy good economic cooperation. The two countries officially inaugurated the construction phase of a gas pipeline project in March 2013 which is due to take Iran’s rich gas reserves to the energy-hungry South Asian nation.
The project kicked off in a ceremony attended by former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his then Pakistani counterpart Asif Ali Zardari at the two countries’ shared border region in Iran’s South-eastern city of Chabahar.
Iran has already constructed more than 900 kilometres of the pipeline on its soil and Iranian contractors will also construct the pipeline in Pakistan.
Tehran-based Tadbir Energy Development Group will undertake all engineering procurement and construction work for the first segment of the project, which starts from Iran-Pakistan joint borderline.
The Iranian firm will also carry out the second segment of the project, while the remaining amount is expected to be generated by Pakistan through the Gas Infrastructure Development Cess (GIDC).
Tehran has agreed to lend Islamabad $500 million, or a third of the estimated $1.5 billion cost of the 750km Pakistani section of the pipeline.
The 2,700-kilometer-long pipeline was to supply gas to Pakistan and India, which are suffering from lack of energy sources. However, India has evaded talks.
In 2011, Iran and Pakistan declared they would finalise the agreement bilaterally if India continued to be absent in the meeting. According to the project proposal, the pipeline will begin from Iran’s Assalouyeh Energy Zone in the south and stretch over 1,100km through Iran. In Pakistan, it will pass through Balochistan and Sindh, but officials now say the route may be changed if China agrees to the project.
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