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Visiting Islamabad, Iran’s FM presses Pakistan to complete long-delayed gas pipeline

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) — Iran’s foreign minister on Thursday urged Pakistan to complete its part of a much-delayed gas pipeline between the two countries, a multi-billion project that has been on hold since 2014. Washington has opposed the pipeline, saying it could violate sanctions imposed on Tehran over its nuclear program.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, who is on a three-day visit to Islamabad, spoke during a televised news conference with his Pakistani counterpart and host, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.

“We do believe that the completion of the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline is definitely going to serve the national interests of our two countries,” Amir-Abdollahian said.

The project, launched in 2013, required Pakistan to finish the construction of the pipeline on its territory by the end of 2014. But the work stalled, upsetting Tehran, which has said it already invested $2 billion in the pipeline on its side of the border.

The two foreign ministers also discussed a range of other bilateral issues, including ensuring security along their countries’ shared border. The pipeline project was launched by Bhutto Zardari’s father, then-Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari.

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Amir-Abdollahian also called for the halting of weapons supplies to Ukraine by the West. “We have said this and we believe war is not the way, it is not the solution,” he said. “We believe that it is a source of great concern that the United States and some Western countries keep arming Ukraine.”

File: Iranian welders work on a pipeline to transfer natural gas from Iran to Pakistan, in Chabahar, near the Pakistani border, southeastern Iran, March 11, 2013. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

Pakistan has called for resolving the Ukraine issue through dialogue.

Bhutto-Zardari said the two countries will soon release each other’s fishermen, detained during incursions into what Islamabad and Tehran said were their territorial waters. He did not provide details.

Pakistan has close ties with Sunni powerhouse Saudi Arabia but has tried to maintain a good relationship with predominantly Shiite Iran. Riyadh and Tehran, long-time rivals, restored ties earlier this year in a Chinese-brokered agreement.