Pakistan has decided to press ahead with a gas pipeline project by the end of this year regardless of the outcome of discussions with Delhi over extending the pipeline to India, according to &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/world/2002/09/04/35969.html ' target=_blank>Shaukat Aziz, Pakistan's prime minister.
Mr Aziz's statement comes before his meeting with Mani Shankar Aiyar, India's petroleum minister, expected to take place tomorrow.
Mr Aiyar arrived in Pakistan on Saturday to discuss plans for a proposed pipeline, which would come from Iran, cross through Pakistan and head into India. It would help meet the increasing energy needs of the two south Asian neighbours, reports the Financial Times.
Pakistan and neighboring India began talks Sunday on a proposed pipeline opposed by the United States that would bring natural gas to both countries from Iran, officials said.
The 1,735-mile pipeline proposed by Iran in 1996 has never gotten off the ground because of India's concern for the security of the pipeline in Pakistan, its archrival for the past six decades.
However, tensions between India and &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/main/2002/03/22/27133.html ' target=_blank>Pakistan have eased in the past year and a half, and their governments have agreed to work toward building the pipeline, despite opposition from Washington, an ally of both countries.
Mani Shankar Aiyar, India's petroleum and natural gas minister, and his Pakistani counterpart, Amanullah Khan Jadoon, began the two-day talks in Pakistan's capital Islamabad.