Baku, Azerbaijan, Dec. 3
By Khalid Kazimov - Trend:
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is expected to pay an official visit to Islamabad, Pakistan's capital on December 9 to attend a ministerial level event on Afghanistan.
Qazi Khalilullah, Foreign Office Spokesman of Pakistan, has said that so far the foreign ministers of China, Tajikistan and Afghanistan have confirmed that they will attend the event, IRNA news agency reported Dec 3.
According to its website, the event entitled Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process is a process founded in 2011 to provide a new agenda for regional cooperation in the 'Heart of Asia' by placing Afghanistan at its center and engaging the 'Heart of Asia' countries in sincere and result‐oriented cooperation for peaceful and stable Afghanistan, as well as a secure and prosperous region as a whole.
Zarif will probably discuss a long delayed gas contract between Tehran and Islamabad with Pakistani officials during his upcoming visit.
Iran and Pakistan signed a gas agreement under former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahamadinejad. According to it, Pakistan was set to import 22 million cubic meters per day (mcm/d) of natural gas from Iran through the Peace Pipeline as of 2015. However, Pakistan has not yet managed to establish its section of the pipeline.
Based upon the agreement, Pakistan was also supposed to pay $200 million to Iran each month as a penalty for delays in carrying out the project.
Iran's Oil Minister, Bijan Namdar Zanganeh, said last September that Pakistan has asked Iran not to penalize it for the delay because it is suffering from financial problems.
According to Zanganeh, the negotiations on this issue are underway.