Iranian President visits Pakistan

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Islamabad, Apr 28 (UNI) Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrived here this morning on a brief visit to meet leaders of the new coalition government and his counterpart Pervez Musharraf.

Water and Power Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf as well as senior Pakistani and Iranian embassy officials received Mr Ahmadinejad, who is scheduled to hold talks with Mr Musharraf and call on Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani before his departure to Columbo.

The talks would focus on entire spectrum of bilateral relations especially the multi-billion dollars Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline project.

''The visit will also focus on helping both Pakistani and Indian governments overcome glitches in the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project and seek an early signing of the agreement,'' Iran's Ambassador to Pakistan Masha'allah Shakeri said ahead of Mr Ahmadinejad's visit.

Iran said it wants Pakistan and India to resolve issues of transit fees and transportation tariff to formally kick-start the IPI project.

Indian Petroleum Minister and his Pakistani counterpart told reporters on Friday in Islamabad after their talks that they had reached fundamentals of agreement on the unresolved issues.

''The IPI (pipeline project) is on the agenda of talks during Mr Ahmadinejad's visit,'' Mr Shakeri said.

Referring to China's inclusion in the IPI project, he said the 7.4 billion dollars project was primarily designed for three countries, adding that although Iran supported the inclusion of a fourth country, it should be looked into as a separate project.

''The involvement of multiple players will contribute to this project's viability and Iran supports regional integration,'' Mr Shakeri added.

UNI XC PD HT1225

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