ISLAMABAD - Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is scheduled to pay an official visit to Pakistan later this month, Federal Minister for Water and Power Khawaja Muhammad Asif said yesterday.

Pakistan was looking forward to the visit of Iranian President (March 25-26), as it would further strengthen bilateral relations, said Khawaja said this while talking to Ambassador of Iran in Pakistan, Mehdi Honardoost, who called on him here.

Meanwhile official sources, aware of the Iranian president’s visit, told The Nation that Iran-Saudi Arabia relations and Iran Pakistan Pipeline (IP) is going to be the main item on the agenda. Since the visit of the Iranian president is taking place after long interval, therefore, the agenda list is lengthy. However, the source said Iran-Saudi relations and Iran Pakistan Pipeline are going to occupy prime location in the list, the source said.

Earlier, Minister of Petroleum and Natural Resources Khaqan Abbasi was scheduled to visit Iran in March to discuss Iran Pakistan Pipeline but according the sources, the visit will be postponed till next month. The mode of implementation of the IP will be discussed during the visit of the Iranian President, the source added.

The IP project was first conceived in early nineties, the pipeline will transport gas from Iran’s South Pars gas field and delivered at the Pak-Iran border, near Gawadar. According to the agreement, each country shall be responsible for construction of pipeline in the respective territory. The distance of pipelines in Iranian territory is 1150 Km and it has already completed a 900-km portion of 56-inch diameter pipeline from Assaluyeh to Shehr. The remaining 250 km upto the Pakistan border is under design, and is expected to be completed in one and a half years time. The Pakistan section of the pipeline is to be laid close to the Makran costal highway from Iran-Pakistan border up to Pakistan off-take point at Nawabshah covering a distance of over 781 KM.

According the term of the IP contract, Pakistan is bound to pay a penalty as it failed to complete the construction of its portion of the pipeline by December 31, 2014. However, work on the project was halted because of the international embargoes on Iran. Since now the embargoes on Iran were lifted it is hoped that the final work on the project will start.

The pipeline, to be completed in two years, would eventually supply Pakistan with enough gas, 750 mmcfd, to fuel 4,500 megawatts of electricity generation.

Khwaja Asif, who also holds the portfolio of defense minister, said Pakistan and Iran, being brotherly neighboring countries, were enjoying cordial relations in different fields. According a press statement issued here stated that Minister of Water and Power and Iranian ambassador discussed the matters of mutual interest and bilateral cooperation in energy, trade, business and defence.

Khawaja Asif also highlighted importance of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and said it will be a vital artery in the region. He stressed that the regional countries should make their planning to get maximum benefit from it.

The minister said Pakistan would play an effective role to ensure peace in the region.

Both the sides agreed that due to lack of economic activities in the region, the phenomena of terrorism were on the rise. The Iranian envoy informed that after lifting of sanctions, Iran possesses a great potential for investment and priority would be given to neighbouring countries.

“The essence of friendship would materialize in form of some projects and Iran Pakistan Gas Pipeline is one of the best projects in this regard,” he added.