Pak-Iran ties not under pressure: Zardari

Islamabad: Pakistan`s ties with Iran will not be "undermined" by any international pressure, President Asif Ali Zardari said today, asserting that Islamabad is determined to forge ahead with projects with Tehran, which include a strategic gas pipeline.

"We need to inter-depend on each other and a safe Pakistan is a prosperous Pakistan. Our bilateral relationships cannot be undermined by any international pressure of any kind," Zardari told a news conference that he addressed with his Afghan and Iranian counterparts after a trilateral summit.

Zardari was responding to a question on whether Pakistan and Iran would resist pressure from the world community to continue with the pipeline project. The venture has come under a cloud due to sanctions imposed on Tehran over its nuclear programme. He said Pakistan is "lobbying the world" on the pipeline project and its "point of view has been and is being looked at and is being accepted".

The Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline aims to export a daily amount of 21.5 million cubic meters (or 8.7 billion cubic meters per year) of the Iranian natural gas to Pakistan.
Maximum daily gas transfer capacity of the 56-inch pipeline which runs over 900 km of Iran`s soil from Asalouyeh in Bushehr Province to the city of Iranshahr in Sistan and Balochistan Province has been given at 110 million cubic meters. Iran has already constructed more than 900 kilometers of the pipeline on its soil.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad endorsed Zardari`s views and said: "All countries of the region know that the roots of problems do not exist in the region itself, these problems have been imposed on our region."

Ahmadinejad said there were "countries that are determined to dominate our region" but did not give details. "There are no fundamental problems between countries of the region. All the problems are coming from outside," he said. External powers did not want countries in the region to develop, he contended.
"We should stand together to advance and realise our goals…We believe that problems of the region must be solved regionally," Ahmadinejad added.

Responding to a question about Iran`s atomic programme, Ahmadinejad said the "nuclear bomb should be deleted from current political relationships". Nuclear weapons, he said, would not "bring about superiority for any nation" as they have "no capability to be used".

Ahmadinejad said: "We must go beyond the nuclear bomb or some temporary political orientations in trying to build relations with other nations." He said Iran`s "profound relationship" with Pakistan is not "because of nuclear bombs" but was based on humanitarian and common cultural values.

The Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project figured in bilateral talks between Zardari and Ahmadinejad on Thursday and the Pakistani leadership reiterated its commitment to the venture despite growing pressure from Western powers.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said the pipeline and other energy projects with Iran should be put on the "fast track". The bilateral talks and the trilateral summit also focussed on the regional security situation, especially the US plans to withdraw troops from Afghanistan and the troubled reconciliation process with the Taliban, and issues like border management and drug trafficking.

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