ISLAMABAD: A delegation from Tehran will visit Islamabad soon to discuss the stalled multibillion-dollar Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project, an official said on Sunday.
“The delegation will visit Pakistan before Eidul Fitr. However, the final date will be decided after receiving a reply from Iran,” said Interstate Gas Company Managing Director Mobin Saulat. “The talks will be held on a technical level,” he added.
The official said Pakistan had signed the pipeline agreement with Iran and wanted the project to be completed.
Earlier, the petroleum ministry informed Iran that it was bound to execute the project but that was only possible after the sanctions imposed by the US on Tehran were lifted.
The ministry wrote to Iran in response to Tehran giving a notice to Islamabad in February this year that it would move the International Court of Justice for failing to lay down the pipeline in Pakistani territory in the timeframe stipulated in the bilateral agreement.
Saulat said Pakistan had up till August this year to legally respond to Iran’s notice and settle the issue through negotiations.
Pakistan and Iran signed the agreement in 2009 and the project had to be completed by December 2014. It had the capacity to provide 750 MMCFD of gas.
However, Pakistan halted the project because of the sanctions imposed on Iran.
According to sources, Prime Minister Imran Khan held a meeting after Iran sent the notice and instructed the authorities concerned to explore opportunities to complete the project.
The premier also ordered that a reconciliatory approach should be adopted to resolve the issue with Iran.
Federal Minister for Maritime Affairs Ali Zaidi recently said Islamabad must work around a way to finish the project despite US sanctions.
He recalled how Imran and the Iranian leadership overcame their communication gap during the premier’s visit to Iran through some candid talk.
The federal minister, while pointing out that several countries had continued trading with Iran despite sanctions, said, “We too need to keep our interest supreme and explore ways for completing the pipeline.”