Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi have held talks on the controversial issue of Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline.
During the Monday talks, the two officials held extensive talks on the much-delayed Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline also known as Peace Pipeline.
It was decided that the Iranian and Pakistani oil ministries follow up the issue through holding technical talks.
The $7 billion project was conceived in the 1990s to connect Iran’s giant South Pars gas field to the subcontinent. Unlike another gas pipeline plan named the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI), the project does not have to cross Afghanistan for an extra 700 km in areas riven by Taliban and ISIS militants, apart from being cheaper.
Security concerns have already forced Western conglomerates such as Chevron, Exxon, BP and Total to back down after showing initial interest in TAPI.
The only bright spot on the horizon for TAPI is Saudi Arabia getting behind the project after its repeated efforts to deter Iran’s return to the energy market fell flat.
Riyadh had threatened not to renew deals with the international tankers which lifted Iranian crude. The kingdom also offered special discounts to European and Asian customers to discourage them from buying Iranian oil but those measures failed to prevent the Islamic Republic from regaining its market share.
Iran has repeatedly called on the energy-starved Pakistan to initiate work on its part of the gas pipeline, but those pleas have fallen on deaf ears except for pledges from some Pakistan officials that they were still committed to the project.
In their Monday talks, Zarif and the Pakistani PM also conferred on increasing trade volume, expanding banking relations, co-managing border problems, enhancing multi-lateral, regional and international cooperation and increasing the number of reciprocal visits of the two sides’ officials.
The Iranian foreign minister also thanked Pakistan for its negative vote to an anti-Iran resolution at the United Nation Security Council and called for all-out expansion of bilateral relations between Iran and Pakistan.