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Pakistan: No ground for US objection to gas pipeline project with Iran

Mumtaz Zahra Baloch, Pakistani foreign ministry spokesperson

Pakistan has dismissed the United States' objection to its decision to start work on a joint pipeline project between the country and Iran.

Late last month, Muhammad Ali, Pakistan’s caretaker energy minister, said work on 80 kilometers (49 miles) of the pipeline that lies in the Pakistani territory would be carried out. Washington has opposed the project, saying it could violate the illegal sanctions that it has imposed on Tehran.

On Thursday, Mumtaz Zahra Baloch, Pakistani foreign ministry spokesperson, was asked during a press briefing if Islamabad had contacted Washington on the decision to begin constructing the pipeline.

"The cabinet of Pakistan decided, a few days ago, to start work on 80 kilometers of Pakistan-Iran pipeline, and this is the beginning of construction of the pipeline and it is in conformity with our commitment to the Iran-Pakistan pipeline,” Baloch said in response.

"And since this pipeline is being constructed inside Pakistani territory, we do not believe there is room for any objections by any third party at this stage," she added.

The project, launched in 2013, required Pakistan to finish the construction of the pipeline on its territory by the end of 2014.

But the work stalled, upsetting Tehran, which has said it has already invested $2 billion in the pipeline on its side of the border.

Pakistan is likely to face an $18-billion fine if it terminates the gas pipeline agreement.

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