India today disputed reports about Iran and Pakistan inking a final agreement on the tri-nation pipeline minus India.
Speaking at the Economic Editors Conference on Tuesday, Indian Petroleum Secretary MR Srinivasan noted that there had been bilateral talks between Iran and Pakistan in Teheran. "But contrary to media reports.... they reread all the provisions of the contract and agreed on most of the contents," he said.
There had been media reports from Dubai last week that seemed to indicate that Iran and Pakistan had finalised the bilateral part of the tri-nation pipeline. The reports quoted Iranian special envoy to the pipeline Hojjatollah Ghanimifard as saying that the text of the gas contract had been finalised.
Srinivasan reiterated that before the next tripartite meeting on the pipeline, India and Pakistan will have to decide on transportation tariff and transit fees as well as take a common stand on price revision clause proposed by Iran.
The proposed project is a 2,775 km gas pipeline to deliver natural gas from Iran's South Pars field to Pakistan and India. Expected to be completed in three to five years, its estimated cost is US $7 billion.
India had not taken part in the last tripartite pipeline conference in Tehran, arguing that it first needed to iron out the bilateral issues with Pakistan. The Indian government had then come under criticism from its Left allies that it was buckling under American pressure to give up economic cooperation with Iran.
However, since then, several senior government ministers have publicly said that India remains "committed" to the gas pipeline project.