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Pakistan Pitches For Iran-India-Pakistan Gas Pipeline

Pakistan's foreign minister, on a visit to India, has urged India to move ahead with a gas pipeline project that will carry gas from Iran to India via Pakistan. As Anjana Pasricha reports from New Delhi, the visit comes as both countries try to give a boost to a slow-moving peace process.

During talks with his Indian counterpart in New Delhi Friday, Pakistani foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi called on India to finalize a $7 billion gas pipeline project that is to carry gas from Iran to both Pakistan and India.

He says the project will benefit both countries and lessen the impact of spiraling energy prices.

"The energy prices have gone berserk and both countries are suffering on account of that this is a project that can help us mitigate our problems vis a vis energy shortages," said Qureshi. "We need energy and this is a project that is a do-able project."

Progress on the project has been delayed due to India's fears about the pipeline's security during its route through long-time rival Pakistan. The project is also opposed by the United States, which wants to isolate Iran over its disputed nuclear program.

Indian foreign minister, Pranab Mukherjee, said New Delhi hopes to resolve technical and commercial aspects of the project with Islamabad.

The Pakistani foreign minister, also called for a boost to the five-year peace process between the two countries, saying the South Asian neighbors should move from conflict management to conflict resolution.

Qureshi says there is broad political support in both countries to deepen the peace process.

"There is a virtual consensus on movement and normalization," he said. "We must seize this opportunity. We have the right environment, and we must not miss this opportunity. It will be a great loss."

Qureshi is on his first visit to India since a democratic government took power in Islamabad.

Meanwhile, the Indian foreign minister, Pranab Mukherjee, reiterated New Delhi's concerns on terrorism. India says Islamic militants infiltrate into Indian territory from Pakistan - and Mukherjee wants closer cooperation from Islamabad in combating the threat.

"Whatever be our political differences, we have to be unambiguous in addressing the terrorist threat," he said. "We hope that in future meetings concrete results, including exchange of information on terrorists and terrorist incidents, will emerge."

Both sides say a fresh round of peace talks will be held next month to discuss their dispute over Kashmir - the Himalayan region that is divided between them and claimed by both.

The peace process has lowered tensions between the rivals and made the once-volatile Kashmir border relatively peaceful. But there has been little progress so far on resolving their conflicting claims to the Himalayan region.