Zardari to visit Iran on March 11
President Asif Ali Zardari will visit Iran to perform ground-breaking of gas pipeline project on Monday, the Foreign Ministry says.
Foreign Office spokesman Moazzam Ahmad Khan said at the weekly news briefing in Islamabad Thursday that several heads of state have also been invited to attend the ceremony.
He said Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources is working out details.
He rejected the impression that Pakistan was in a fix over the project due to foreign pressure and said the project being in our national interests we are committed to go ahead with it.
The spokesman said Pakistan is aware of concerns of the United States and some other countries about the project but hoped that they would understand Pakistan's economic compulsions in this regard.
To a question he said discussions are also going on with Iran about setting up of an oil refinery at Gwadar in Balochistan.
President Zardari said last week that his energy-starved country will pursue the gas pipeline project and will persuade the critics that Pakistan needs energy.
Reports said earlier that the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline will be inaugurated on March 11 at the Iran border port city of Chahbahar by the presidents of the two countries.
Pakistan and Iran have held series of talks on the project for nearly two decades but it was finalized during the recent visit to Tehran by President Zardari.
Pakistani media has also reported that Tehran has agreed to provide a 500 million US dollars loan to partially finance construction of the pipeline on the Pakistan side, which will cost 1.5 billion U.S. dollars. Pakistan will shoulder the remaining cost from its own resources.
Both countries had already agreed to complete the project by mid-2014.
Iran has already completed the pipeline in its territory while the laying of 785-km long Pakistani section will start shortly.
Pakistan plans to import 21.5 million cubic meters of gas daily from Iran through the pipeline.
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