Iran tells Pak gasline must advance despite US hostility

Islamabad, Feb. 28 (ANI): Iran”s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has told visiting Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari that a much-delayed 7.5 billion-dollar gas pipeline project must go ahead despite US opposition. The Nation quoted Khamenei, as telling Zardari that the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline is an important example of Tehran-Islamabad cooperation, and despite hostilities towards the expansion of ties the two countries must overcome this opposition decisively. The pipeline project has run into repeated problems, including Pakistan”s difficulty in finding funds and opposition to the project from Washington, which has slapped Iran with a raft of sanctions over its nuclear activities. Zardari, in talks with his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said, he believes that building the project is very beneficial for both sides. Ahmadinejad said that building the gas pipeline between Iran and Pakistan is a great and important event, and it serves the two nations” interests. He added that if Tehran and Islamabad consolidate their capacities, they can overcome all obstacles and animosities and accelerate their progress. Zardari, for his part, underlined the importance of the expansion of brotherly relations between Iran and Pakistan and noted that trust and strong ties exist between the two countries, despite efforts by those who want to obstruct cooperation between the two nations. He said Pakistan is determined to walk the path of promoting bilateral ties, adding that consolidating the capacities of both states would serve their interests. Zardari, who arrived in Tehran on Wednesday, is set to hold talks with Iranian officials on various regional and bilateral issues. According to official sources, Zardari also plans to sign an oil refinery deal worth four billion dollars with Tehran. Islamabad has said it will pursue the project regardless of US pressure, saying the gas is needed to help Pakistan overcome its energy crisis that has led to debilitating blackouts and suffocated industry. Iran has almost completed the pipeline work in its territory, but Pakistan has not yet started construction of 780 kilometers of the pipeline on its side, which is said to cost some $1.5 billion. (ANI)