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Iran's Oil Minister begins Pakistan visit with positive note on gas pipeline

Islamabad, July 6, IRNA-Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh arrived in Pakistan on Wednesday for talks on the multi-billion gas line project with a positive note to take the project forward.

"I am hopeful that a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) will be signed during the talks here, which will determine the major topics egarding the export of Iran's gas," the visiting minister told IRNA on arrival on a two-day visit.

Besides, the 2,600km landline would cost about $4 billion, the two sides will also discuss expansion of mutual cooperation in the energy sector.

"The project will bring sustainable peace to the region," Zanganeh added.

"The project is viable and practical and financial resources could be arranged through international consortium," he said.

The Iranian minister said he will discuss two issues with Pakistani leaders including the import of gas for Pakistan's domestic consumption as demand for import of gas in Pakistan from foreign resources will increase by 2010.

The second issue in the discussion would be the Iran-India gas pipeline project through Pakistan, he said.

He hoped that improvement in relations between Pakistan and India and settlement of political issues will speed up work on the project.

"If all the introductory business is finalized during the talks, the construction of the project could be started in less than a year," Zanganeh stated.

He said that India has shown more interest in the project during the last one year and since then the process of negotiation on project work has been accelerated.

Pakistan Petroleum Secretary Ahmed Waqar, who welcomed the Iranian oil minister on arrival, hoped that Pakistan and Iran will ink an MoU during the talks.

"This is a very important visit as after having met with the Indian delegation in June, we feel that this project will hopefully move forward," Waqar told IRNA.

He said the two sides will try to finalize the details and to lay down the time frame for taking the project forward.

Talking about the contents of the MoU, he said that this will elaborate on terms sheet and future dates of signing various agreements including the gas purchase agreement.

During their meeting with the Pakistani Minister of Petroleum and Natural Resources Amanullah Khan Jadoon, the Iranian delegation is to follow up already reached agreements between Iran, India and Pakistan to expedite export of Iran's gas via Pakistan.

Zanganeh's visit comes one month after the trip to Pakistan by Indian Petroleum Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar who had wide ranging talks on the pipeline, and the two countries had agreed to form a joint working group to speed up discussion on the project.

... Payvand News - 7/6/05 ... --

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