Gas pipeline will underpin peace process: Pakistan

Updated on Jan 22, 2006 12:44 AM IST

Pakistan PM Shaukat Aziz will raise the issue when he meets US President George Bush in Washington on Tuesday.

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None | ByPress Trust of India, Islamabad

Pakistan Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, who is on a visit to the US, has said he plans to discuss the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project with President George W Bush as it could "underpin" the peace process with India.

Pakistan government's representatives would meet Iranian and Indian officials in the next few weeks to discuss the project, he said adding a "deal could be structured around US laws that forbid investment inside Iran".

Aziz, who is scheduled to meet Bush in the White House on January 24, told the Wall Street Journal that he plans to discuss the need for the project with Bush as it could play a central role in securing Pakistan's energy needs and underpin the peace process with India.

The Bush administration has opposed the project arguing Tehran needs to be isolated to give up its nuclear programme.

Referring to Iran's nuclear ambitions, Aziz said there was no evidence to support such assertions. "Our view is very clear. We do not believe in proliferation at all. We do not think any country should proliferate and have nuclear weapons," he said.

On the proposed visit of President Bush to India in February, Aziz said "If India-US relations are good, why should we object. We think they can be of mutual benefit. We are of the view that the US leadership can exercise its influence on both the countries to resolve their issues so that much-needed peace can be ensured in the South Asian region."

Asked if terrorist could get control of Pakistan's nuclear weapons, Aziz said, "We have a very strong command and control system in place. President Musharraf has ensured an effective security apparatus".

About disgraced Pakistan's nuclear scientist, AQ Khan, he said, "Khan is in protective custody and is not allowed to meet anybody. He is being investigated.

"What he really did was an individual act. Khan is not a nuclear expert. He is a metallurgist and a (nuclear) fuel expert. He was regarded as a hero because he created the perception that he was all in all. Moreover, he was regarded as father of Pakistan's nuclear programme all over the world.

"IAEA is fully aware of what information we have and so do all friendly countries," he added.

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