Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his Pakistani counterpart Pervez Musharraf on Monday cleared all hurdles over a gas pipeline to India and agreed to sign a deal soon, state media said.
Ahmadinejad discussed the 7.5-billion-dollar project to transport Iranian gas across the subcontinent while making a short stopover in Islamabad on the first leg of a whirlwind tour of South Asia.
“The two leaders expressed satisfaction over the resolution of all issues that had delayed a final agreement,” Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi was quoted as saying by the official Associated Press of Pakistan.
Qureshi said the Iranian and Pakistani presidents had tasked their foreign ministers to agree on a “mutually convenient date for signing the agreement” after their hour-long talks in Islamabad.
Talks on the 2,600-kilometre (1,615-mile) Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline began in 1994 but have been stalled by tensions between India and Pakistan and disagreements over transit fees.
India’s oil minister Murli Deora held talks in Pakistan last week on the pipeline. India imports more than 70 percent of its energy needs.
Iran, meanwhile, agreed to provide 1,100 MW of electricity to Pakistan to help it overcome a recent power shortage, particularly in areas adjoining Iran.
Musharraf and Ahmadinejad also discussed the situation in neighbouring Afghanistan, which is battling a Taliban insurgency, and “stressed that peace and stability was vital for the region”, APP reported.
Ahmadinejad later held talks with new Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, his first meeting with an official from a new government that took power last month after defeating Musharraf's allies in elections.
The Iranian president arrived on Monday morning at Chaklala Airbase in Rawalpindi, a garrison city adjoining Islamabad, and was greeted by an air force honour guard and received bouquets from a young boy and girl. He is on his way to Sri Lanka later Monday and will also visit India in coming days.