Iranian gas offered to India and Pakistan may match global prices

Aug 10, 2006 02:00 AM

The cost of natural gas Iran is offering to Pakistan and India "cannot be very far away from international prices", Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said. Ahmadinejad also said that the Indian "mistake" of voting against Iran at the International Atomic Energy Commission (IAEA) meeting in Vienna last year would not hit bilateral ties.
He said Iran had a lot of offers for its gas from Europe "with very high prices. Nevertheless, we would like this pipeline to be constructed and stretch between Iran, Pakistan and India. We want this pipeline to be the pipeline of brotherhood and peace. And of course we would very much like to be flexible."

But he made it clear that the National Iran Oil Company (NIOC) would work out an agreement with economics in mind and it would want to sell the natural gas at the best possible price.
"This natural gas pipeline will be securable and bankable operation," said Ahmadinejad, the highest-ranking Iranian to speak on the issue that is bogged down by differences over pricing and US objections to collaboration with Iran. "With that in mind, its prices cannot be very far away from international prices. I think we can come to agreement. (We should give) some time to the experts of the three countries to reach an agreement."

The president said there were also differences between India and Iran over the sale of liquefied natural gas (LNG).
"I myself am personally following matters. I have directed my colleagues to approach the Majlis (parliament) and ask them where we stand on the LNG issue. I think that in about 30-40 days time now, we will have an answer."

Iran and India, he said, had many shared interests but insisted that New Delhi's vote against Tehran at the IAEA meet last year in the company of the US was a "mistake".
"We were dismayed with the position taken by the Indian government. This came as a surprise. Having said that, this will not play a role in determining our relations. Ours is not the kind of relationship that will be affectedby one mistake. I think the relations are important enough that if one of the parties makes a mistake, they would correct that mistake themselves."

Ahmadinejad also spoke at length about the Iranian nuclear row that many feel could trigger another military showdown in the region. He said Iranians "no longer have any confidence, any trust" in the position taken by the West and other countries that are seeking to curb Tehran's nuclear programme, saying it was meant not to produce energy but to covertly develop weapons.
"We are interested in continuing with negotiations. But their most recent behaviour is reason enough for us to doubt their sincerity," he said. "Given everything that has happened, we no longer have any confidence, any trust."

He said the West was not looking for a dialogue.
"In all honestly, they do not want to talk to us but want to impose their wishes on us. They want to deny us our rights. But they have miscalculated. The time for such behaviour is in the past, it's finished... And they will regret the miscalculation they have made today."

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