ISLAMABAD: Pakistan says it's pushing ahead with a planned pipeline to import natural gas from neighbouring Iran, a project that is opposed by the US.

Tuesday's statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Pakistani and Iranian oil officials decided during a meeting Monday in Tehran to fast track the project.

The pipeline will link Iranian gas fields to energy-starved Pakistan. Gas is supposed to start flowing by the end of 2014, but the project has been beset by repeated delays.

The US opposes the Iran-Pakistan pipeline, supporting instead an alternative pipeline proposal that would run from the gas fields of Turkmenistan to Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. Also, if Pakistan goes ahead with the pipeline, it could trigger US and international sanctions over Iran's nuclear program.

The decision came during a meeting between Federal Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Iranian Minister of Petroleum Bijan Namdar Zangeneh held at the Ministry of Petroleum at Tehran on Monday.

Foreign Office spokesman giving details of the meeting said, both the countries have also agreed to formulate a road map to address the challenges and to have effective coordination and cooperation on the project.

It was also agreed that a meeting will be held shortly between the experts of both sides to review parameters for accelerating work on the IP gas pipeline

Shahid Khaqan Abbasi accompanied by Secretary Petroleum Abid Saeed and Managing Director of Pakistan's Interstate State Gas System Mobin Saulat arrived in Tehran to discuss the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline issue with his counterpart and reiterate Pakistan's assurance to fulfill its contractual obligation as the project is of immense importance to meet the energy needs of the country.

The two ministers also reviewed in detail the bilateral cooperation and expressed satisfaction over the friendly and cordial relations between the two brotherly countries.

Discussing various areas of cooperation, both sides emphasised the need to put greater focus on bilateral economic relations.



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