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Won't take foreing pressure on Iran gas deal: FM Hina

02 March, 2012

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ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, rejecting US threats of economic sanctions on promotion of economic ties between Pakistan and Iran, said on Thursday that the country would extend its cooperation with Iran in the field of energy. However, she also said that no agreement would be signed against national interest.

Addressing a news conference at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Khar, rejecting the American objections on Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline, gave a clear message to Washington that Islamabad would make a decision keeping national interests a priority. To a query, the foreign minister once again reiterated the commitment that an accord with Iran on a gas pipeline would be inked without any external pressure.

"Pakistan is pursuing important projects with Iran, such as gas pipeline, electricity transmission, and also building a more robust trade partnership between the two countries," Khar said. "All of these projects are in Pakistan's national interest and will be pursued and completed irrespective of any extraneous consideration."

Being selective: Brushing aside pressures, Khar said, "As far as bilateral relations and cooperation is concerned we don't make it contingent on views and policies of any third country. I think all our friends are encouraged to understand the real energy crisis facing Pakistan. We can't afford to be selective of where we receive our energy supply from."

To a question about threats from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to impose sanctions on Pakistan if it continued with the gas project with Iran, the foreign minister said, "We will cross the bridge when it will come."

She, however, hoped that the international community would look into the matter and find a way to resolve the issue through peaceful negotiations on Iran's nuclear issue and sanctions on Pakistan would not be imposed.

Regarding Pak-US ties, she said that joint sitting of parliament would be summoned by mid-March, in which the members would review future status of the Pak-US ties based upon mutual respect and equality.

Commenting on the Afghanistan issue, Khar was of the view that Pakistan wanted to have good and peaceful ties with Afghanistan. To another query, she said that resumption of NATO supply would be decided by parliament.

She said seeking aid was not the aim, rather Pakistan would like to enhance its mercantile ties with other nations of the world. She said ties with Iran and Afghanistan would be strengthened, adding that Pakistan would seek assistance wherever it was available without any external pressure.

Khar also said that relations with the United States, NATO and ISAF would be promoted on the basis of mutual respect and in line with the policy devised by parliament. She said the Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Policy would finalise its recommendations by the second week of this month.

"We want to add the element of credibility with the United States," she said.

Khar said Pakistan wanted to maintain friendly relations with all its neighbours, including India, adding that there was enthusiasm from both the sides to improve ties. She said the two governments had been working together to build a level of trust for mutual benefit of the two nations.

To a question on awarding India the status of most-favoured nation and Kashmir issue, the FM explained that Pakistan had not compromised on its principled stand on Kashmir and would remain committed to the resolution of this issue through dialogue. She said the MFN status was necessary to normalise trade activities between the two countries.

End.

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