Publishe Date: 4:22 PM - 1/4/2014 | Print

FM Spokeswoman: Zarif’s Visit Helped Improve Iran-Pakistan Ties

Politics - A senior Pakistani diplomat underlined that Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’s recent visit to Islamabad paved the way for the improvement of bilateral ties.

Zarif visited Pakistan last month to attend the 16th ministerial meeting of the D8 Organization for Economic Cooperation in Islamabad, Pakistan.

“A recent trip by the Iranian foreign minister to Pakistan for a ministerial meeting of the Developing Eight (D-8) has created the opportunity to improve Tehran-Islamabad bilateral relations,” Pakistani Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Tasneem Aslam said, addressing a press conference in Islamabad on Friday.

In December, the Iranian foreign minister stressed that Iran attaches great importance to the expansion of bilateral relations with the neighboring countries, particularly Pakistan.

“Iran is ready to bolster interactions with Pakistan in economic, political and cultural areas,” Zarif said at the time.

Zarif further outlined Tehran’s efforts for the completion of the multi-billion-dollar Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline, which is projected to carry natural gas from Iran to Pakistan.

According to the original agreement sealed between Iran and Pakistan, the first Iranian gas delivery to Pakistan should start by December 31, 2014.

The two countries are also responsible for the completion of the pipeline project inside their territories, and if Pakistan does not fulfill its obligation to complete the pipeline on its side by the end of 2014, it will have to pay a daily penalty of $1mln to Iran until completion.

Iran has agreed not to penalize Pakistan for missing the deadline.

The United States has been threatening Pakistan with economic sanctions if Islamabad goes ahead with the pipeline project.

However, the government of Sharif has made it clear that addressing the country’s longstanding energy problems will be its top priority, and it has no plans to reverse the decision on the completion of the pipeline.

Iran has already built 900 kilometers of the pipeline on its own soil and is waiting for the 700-kilometer Pakistani side of the pipeline to be constructed.

The IP pipeline is designed to help Pakistan overcome its growing energy needs at a time when the country of over 180 million people is grappling with serious energy shortages.

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