Pakistan has expressed its readiness to go ahead with the $7.5 billion gas pipeline with Iran even if India, which has security and other concerns, opts out of the trilateral project.
Heading for Iran on his first visit to the country after assuming office, President Asif Ali Zardari said, "We have proposed that even if the third party (India) does not come into this relationship, we should do it on our own. Pakistan and Iran should do this project on our own."
The 2,600-km pipeline, to be built at a cost of $7.5 billion, was mooted in 1994 but has been delayed by differences between the three countries on the pricing of gas and transit fees.
It has also been held up with New Delhi seeking firm assurances of uninterrupted supplies. Since the proposed pipeline will go through Pakistan, there are concerns of supplies getting affected in the event of relations between India and Pakistan turning sour.
Zardari told Iran's state-run IRNA news agency ahead of the visit that begins on Tuesday that he would discuss ways to step up the dialogue on the project during his meetings with top Iranian leaders.
The President will hold talks with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and other leaders on regional issues, including the situation in Afghanistan, and participate in a summit of the Economic Cooperation Organisation.