TEHRAN (FNA)- Pakistan is keen to see the Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) oil pipeline project through and awaits India’s readiness to engage with Pakistan in this regard, Pakistan’s Minister for Finance and Economic Affairs Syed Naveed Qamar said.
“Pakistan is keen to move ahead (with the pipeline project) and I want to see whether India is ready to engage with us fully or it would like to spend some more time thinking about it,” Qamar told the Khaleej Times.
He was speaking after leading a high-level Pakistani delegation to the 17th session of the Iran-Pakistan Joint Economic Commission meeting which concluded Sunday.
According to the report, both Iran and Pakistan have agreed that all aspects of the project have been covered and a Gas Sales and Purchase Agreement (GSPA) between Iran and Pakistan has been finalized. The proposed $7.5 billion pipeline would run 2,615 km from Iran to India through Pakistan and initially carry 2,120 million cubic feet of gas a day.
The pipeline issue had came up for discussion during the course of a meeting between India’s Minister for Oil and Natural Gas Murli Deora and Iran’s Oil Minister Gholam Hossein Nozari in Jeddah last week.
Reiterating India’s commitment to the project in the course of the meeting, held on the sidelines of the Jeddah energy summit convened by Saudi Arabia to discuss spiraling global oil prices, Deora had briefed his Iranian counterpart about the meeting between India and Pakistan at Islamabad in April this year.
Deora told reporters that India was hopeful of signing the pipeline deal with Iran and Pakistan soon. He said that with Pakistan getting a new oil minister, India needed to discuss a few minor issues with its subcontinental neighbor.
Tehran is going to host a meeting next month with India and Pakistan on the project.
Elsewhere at the 17th session of the Iran-Pakistan Joint Economic Commission, the Pakistani Finance Minister emphasized the need to increase trade ties between his country and Iran and to develop cooperation in the energy and transport sectors.
The two-day session focused on the two countries’ cooperation in the trade, transportation, communications, energy, information technology, telecommunications, agricultural, banking, health, and education sectors.
Qamar said that the joint economic commission has provided a good opportunity for regulating ties between the two countries and tapping their potential.
He went on to say that the challenges in the oil market and the need to increase agricultural production have provided another opportunity for cooperation.
He blamed the imbalance in supply and demand as the most important problem for the two countries’ trade ties.
“We need regional unions and believe that we should provide serious economic opportunities by holding regional meetings, and the two countries of Iran and Pakistan should do more in this regard,” Qamar told participants at the commission meeting, which Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki also attended.
Qamar cited joint activities to produce electricity as another area for Iran-Pakistan cooperation. “Direct foreign investment has provided a good opportunity for us.”
Mottaki said Iran and Pakistan have the potential to greatly boost the level of their annual bilateral trade, which currently stands at $500 million.
Tehran is glad to see that foreign investment and industrial and agricultural production has risen in Pakistan, the Iranian foreign minister added.
Qamar said Islamabad prioritizes the development of transportation facilities and expressed hope to establish a bus route between Iran and Pakistan by mid-August.
He added that Pakistan is ready to help Iran join SAARC.
The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is an economic and political organization of eight countries in Southern Asia. It was established on December 8, 1985 by India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, the Maldives and Bhutan. In April 2007, at the association’s 14th summit, Afghanistan became its eighth member.
The Pakistani finance minister and his delegation also held talks with the Iranian president in which the two sides called for the speedy implementation of the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project.