Construction of the Pakistan section of the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline officially started on Monday. The project was launched during a ceremony on the Iran-Pakistan border attended by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari.
High-ranking officials from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Turkmenistan, Oman, and Afghanistan also attended the ceremony, the Mehr News Agency reported.
"The completion of the pipeline is in the interests of peace, security, and progress of the two countries... it will also consolidate the economic, political and security ties of the two nations," the two presidents said in a joint statement, AFP reported.
The 900-kilometer Iranian section of the pipeline is almost complete.
The Pakistan section of the pipeline, which will stretch for 780 kilometers, will be built over the next two years.
In November 2012, during a trip to Pakistan, Ahmadinejad emphasized the need to complete the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline on schedule.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (L) and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari
The Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline, which is projected to cost 1.2 to 1.5 billion dollars, will export 21.5 million cubic meters of Iranian natural gas per day to Pakistan when it comes on stream.
The Islamic Republic of Iran has offered to give Pakistan a $250 million loan to help finance the project.
Iran has pledged to secure $500 million to complete the Pakistan section of the project and the rest will be provided by the Pakistani government.
Meanwhile, the U.S. says the project would enable Iran to sell more of its gas, undermining efforts to step up pressure over Tehran's nuclear activities.
But power shortages have become a pressing issue in Pakistan, and Islamabad insists it will not bow to the pressure and will not cancel the project.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
(L) and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari
... Payvand News - 03/12/13 ... --