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Support to gas pipeline assured: Land route only feasible option, says Iran

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    Support to gas pipeline assured: Land route only feasible option, says Iran

    just as news to the indians about the under the ocean pipe line not being feasible...

    Support to gas pipeline assured: Land route only feasible option, says Iran

    By Khaleeq Kiani

    ISLAMABAD, April 25: Pakistan and Iran agreed on Wednesday that trans-Pakistan route was the only feasible option for Iran-India gas pipeline project. Petroleum Minister Usman Aminuddin told Dawn that Iran considered land-route for the gas pipeline as the only feasible option. "We have once again assured them (Iran) that Pakistan is ready to provide any support to remove Indian security concerns but we should know what these security concerns are in the first place," said the minister.

    "Why there should be security concerns when the project is in the economic interest of all the three nations," said the minister. However, he said Pakistan did not need to get gas from the pipeline but would support Iran to take the pipeline to India.

    The minister led a team of Pakistani experts that held an hour-long meeting with the visiting Iranian delegation led by secretary of the Iran's Supreme National Security Council and National Security Adviser to the President, Hojjatoleslam Dr Hassan Rouhani.

    The minister said Pakistani side also asked Iran to start physical work on Pak-Iran Refinery near Hub in Balochistan. The Iranian side assured that a technical team would be dispatched to Islamabad on May 23, 2001 in this regard.

    The minister also raised the issue of the smuggling of petroleum products from Iran to Pakistan and told the visiting delegation that it was harmful for the economies of both the countries. The visiting dignitary was asked that Tehran should help Pakistan check this problem.

    The Iranian side was informed that Pakistan was interested in exporting surplus motor spirit to Iran but this was possible only on international market rates because Islamabad was importing crude oil from Tehran on international rates and this trade should be on a level-playing field.

    "Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project will not only enhance the level of regional economic and trade interaction but will also open up new vistas of beneficial relations among the member states," an official statement quoted the petroleum minister as saying.

    The petroleum minister talked about tremendous opportunities in the oil and gas field between the two countries and raised the issues pertaining to proposed Pak-Iran Refinery, gas projects, import of crude oil from Iran and export of motor gasoline to Iran, the statement said.

    The statement said that Mr Usman also informed the Iranian team about the POL smuggling from Iran to Pakistan and solicited concrete steps to stamp out this menace causing loss to the national exchequers of both countries.

    Ahmad Hasan Alvi adds: Pakistan and Iran have agreed to consider raising the level of Pakistan-Iran Joint Committee to a Joint Secretariat Commission, with minister level representation, apart from expansion of bi-lateral relations and co-operation in their efforts to check cross-border smuggling, drug trafficking, criminals' movement and other illegal activities of various anti-social elements, says a press release.

    Similarity in views was observed during a meeting between Dr. Hassan Rouhani, Secretary Supreme National Security Council of Iran and Federal Interior Minister Moinuddin Haider here on Wednesday.

    Both the leaders agreed on evolving joint strategy for tightening border vigilance and exchanging information about the activities of drug smugglers operating along the Pakistan-Iran border.

    During the talks, the interior minister referred to the historical, cultural and brotherly relations that existed between both the countries and expressed confidence that the visit of Dr Rouhani would open a new chapter in the relations between the two countries.

    Those who assisted the interior minister included federal secretaries of interior and narcotics control and other high ranking officials. Iranian ambassador to Pakistan assisted Dr Hassan Rouhani, apart from the members of his delegation.

    Hojjatoleslam Dr Hassan Rouhani, National Security Adviser to the Iranian President, discussed Kashmir issue and situation in Afghanistan with President Rafiq Tarar here on Wednesday.

    "Pakistan-Iran bilateral relations as well as the Kashmir issue and the situation in Afghanistan were discussed during the meeting," said a statement of the ministry of foreign affairs.

    Tarar expressed his "satisfaction at the special relations between Pakistan and Iran, which were deeply rooted in shared faith, culture and history."

    The president also underscored the need for greater economic co-operation between the two countries.

    Dr Hassan Rouhani called for "greater unity in the Islamic world to face challenges that were confronting the Ummah."

    He pointed out that Iran "attached great importance to the solution of the Kashmir problem."