A visit by Pakistani Petroleum Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to Iran has been postponed for unspecified reasons, according to a report.
Pakistani officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the financial daily, Business Recorder, that Abbasi was to pay a visit to Tehran before Eid al-Adha to discuss technical and financial details regarding multi-billion-dollar Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline project.
“As per the plan, we were expecting that all the arrangements of the visit will be finalized by October 10 but have not received a green signal from the Iranian authorities so far and therefore the visit has been delayed,” the officials said.
The daily further quoted unnamed officials from Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry as saying that the Pakistani delegation, which is to be headed by Abbasi, will hold new negotiations with the Iranian officials over the financing of the joint project during the upcoming trip to the Islamic Republic.
The Pakistani delegation “will also request the Iranian authorities to extend the amount of their financial support from USD 500 million to USD 1 billion,” said the officials.
According to the officials, Islamabad has failed to complete the pipeline project due to the illegal sanctions imposed against the Islamic Republic.
“Once the US sanctions are lifted, the laying of pipeline will be completed within a year as all other important tasks related to the project are in place,” they noted.
Both Tehran and Islamabad are committed to completing the project by the end of next year, said the officials, adding that if any side delays the project, it will have to pay a penalty of USD 1 million per day.
The IP pipeline is designed to help Pakistan to overcome its growing energy needs at a time when the country of over 180 million people is grappling with serious energy shortages.
Iran has already built 900 kilometers of the pipeline on its soil and is helping to build the 700-kilometer part of the pipeline on the Pakistani side.
The United States has long been threatening Pakistan with economic sanctions if Islamabad goes ahead with the gas pipeline project. But the Pakistani government has no plans to reverse the decision.
By Press TV
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