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Gas project with Iran to be pushed forward: govt

ISLAMABAD, Dec 10: Pakistan will push forward with a pipeline to import natural gas from Iran, the Foreign Office said on Tuesday.

The pipeline will link Iran`s gas fields to energy-starved Pakistan.

The US has opposed the project and instead supported an alternative proposal to build a pipeline from the gas fields of Turkmenistan to Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement on Tuesday that petroleum ministers of the two countries met in Tehran on Monday to discuss the project, which has been beset by repeated delays.

The two countries decided to fast-track the pipeline and formulate a road map to work out challenges, the ministry said.

The ministry said experts from both sides would meet soon to accelerate work on the pipeline.

Pakistani officials in the Tehran meeting also reiterated their government`s commitment to fulfil its contrac-tual obligation to the pipeline and stressed that the project is of `immense importance` to meeting Pakistan`s energy needs.

The agreement with Iran stipulates that Pakistan must construct its side of the pipeline by Dec 2014 but the project has met repeated delays.

If Pakistan fails to meet this deadline, it will be liable to pay fines that could run into the millions of dollars per day.-Agencies