February 15, 2008

Iran Concerned about Indo-Pak Differences over IPI Pipeline

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iran said that the delay in the implementation of a $7.4 gas pipeline project, which is due to take its gas to India via Pakistan was mainly because of serious differences between New Delhi and Islamabad and that Tehran has nothing to do with it.

Stating that there was a limited time and there were various other countries pursuing for Iranian gas, Iran's visiting Foreign Ministry Spokesman Seyed Mohammad Ali Hosseini told FE that India and Pakistan need to agree on contentious issues as it would pave the way for signing the agreement.

Declining to comment on whether the delay in signing the deal was due to India's pro-US policy, Hosseini, however, said that public opinion in Iran was growing against Indian policy tilting towards the US. He also declined to comment on the proposed India-US civil nuclear deal.

As per the IPI pipeline proposal, after signing of the agreement, 60 million standard cubic meters per day (mmscmd) of gas is expected to be supplied in phase-I, which will be shared equally between India and Pakistan. In phase-II, 90 mmscmd of gas will be supplied to India and Pakistan.

Hosseini's comments come at a time when the steering committee meeting (SCM) of the participating countries has been rescheduled and is slated to be held in February 2008.

A bilateral meeting between India and Pakistan is also expected on the sidelines of the SCM meeting. So far six meetings of the trilateral joint working group (JWG) have been held, with the last meeting being held in New Delhi on June 28-29, 2007. The Centre is in the process of discussing the details of the project with the governments of Iran and Pakistan.

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