India asks Iran to negotiate with Pakistan on gas pipeline

Jan 10, 2005 01:00 AM

With India, Pakistan and Iran agreeing to prepare the feasibility report within the next two months, the prospects of Rs 18,000 crore Iran-India gas pipeline project have further brightened.
To give the proposal a concrete shape, a high-level delegation from Iranian petroleum ministry will visit New Delhi in February. Thereafter, India will take up the matter with its Pakistani counterparts during the Indo-Pak natural gas and petroleum ministers' meeting to be held in February, sources in the petroleum ministry told.

Petroleum minister Mani Shankar Ayer had detailed discussions on the trans-national gas pipeline with Iranian minister for oil Bijan Namdar Zanganeh when he was here to participate in the round-table of Asian ministers on regional co-operation in the oil economy.
According to a senior official of the ministry, the two leaders discussed a slew of proposals related to the proposed gas pipeline. India is learnt to have mooted that "Iran, which is the seller of the gas, should initiate dialogue with Pakistan on the portion of the line passing through Pakistan from Balochistan and Sind on its own."
The proposal said, "India will have no concern who builds pipeline and where it is built."

India has also conveyed its decision to the Iranian minister that both Iran and Pakistan should chalk out planning and bear the cost of the proposed project. The two countries should achieve financial closure of the project between themselves. The cost of laying the pipeline in India could be retrieved by way of pricing the gas suitably.
Iran is also supposed to ensure the regular supply of the gas from Indo-Pak borders, the proposal added.

The official also confirmed if Iran was ready to accept the Indian proposal, the Indian side would be bound to accept the gas supplies from the project at a mutually agreed price.
Energy security in the South Asia region will be bolstered significantly with the possibility of the gas project.

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