Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi arrived in Islamabad on Wednesday to represent his side in the meeting of Iran-Pakistan Joint Economic Commission to review progress on the multi-billion gas pipeline project and promote economic cooperation, said officials and diplomats.
The Iranian Foreign Minister will meet with President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani and will also discuss regional and international matters with Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, officials said.
Salehi, who heads a 40-member delegation at the September 7-8 joint commission meeting, will also call on Speaker of the National Assembly and Chairman of the Senate.
Diplomats said that the 7.5-billion-US-dollar Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project will get priority in the two-day talks.
An unnamed Iranian diplomat has been quoted as saying that Iran is keen to accelerate work on the project which is scheduled to deliver gas to Pakistan in mid-2014.
Pakistan says that a total of 781-kilometer, 42-inch-in- diameter pipeline would be laid along the southwestern Balochistan coastline up to Nawabshah district in southern Sindh province from where it will be linked to the country's national gas transmission network.
Officials said the pipeline on the Pakistani side will be funded through public-private partnership and the capital cost for its section is estimated at 1.65 billion US dollars.
Iranian side may offer assistance in building the Pakistani portion of the project to ensure its completion in time, an Iranian diplomat said ahead of the meeting.
The initial capacity of the pipeline will be 22 billion cubic meters of natural gas per annum, which is expected to be later raised to 55 billion cubic meters.
Both sides will also explore ways to enhance the current trade volume to four billion US dollars by 2014, the diplomat said.
The two sides are expected to ink three cooperation agreements in the fields of economy, media and medicines, said officials.