Iranian President Ahmadinejad (right) in talks with his Pakistani counterpart, Musharraf
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad discussed with the Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf in a four-hour visit to the Pakistani capital Islamabad a $7.6 billion Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline project that will soon be finalized.
The project has long been delayed on account of Pakistan and India's differences over transit fee issues. However, Pakistan's Oil Minister said on Friday that the two sides were close to finalizing a deal to complete the IPI pipeline by 2012, before Iran starts exporting its natural gas in 2013.
Meanwhile, Islamabad tried to persuade Beijing into building a pipeline to transfer Iran's natural gas to China through Pakistan to meet its increasing energy demand. But Iran's ambassador to Pakistan said China's inclusion in the multi-billion-dollar IPI pipeline project would require a feasibility study.
Ahmadinejad left Islamabad for Sri Lanka and will arrive in India on Tuesday.
The United States has tried in the past to persuade India and Pakistan to keep from signing any deals with Iran because of Tehran's suspected plans to build nuclear arms. Iran denies any such plans.
al-Quds, East Jerusalem, April 28, 2008; PRESSTV, Iran, April 27, 2008