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Iran to decide on pipeline within 90 days

Iran expressed hope that talks with the India and Pak would bring about some positive outcome.

india Updated: May 05, 2006 16:44 IST

Iran has said it would take a "final decision" on a gas pipeline with India and Pakistan within 90 days and hoped that its talks with the two countries during the stipulated period would bring about some "positive outcome."

A "final decision" on the $7.2 billion gas pipeline would be taken within 90 days, Iranian President Mahmaoud Ahmadinejad said yesterday during talks with Pakistan Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz on the sidelines of Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO) Summit in Azerbaijan's capital Baku.

Ahmadinejad said he hoped for some "positive outcome" within the stipulated time, Pakistan's state-run APP news agency reported today.

The Iranian President also briefed Aziz about his recent telephonic talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in this regard and said a "positive decision is expected within three months."

Aziz told Ahmadinejad that Pakistan, owing to its rapidly growing economy, is looking forward to an early completion of the Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline project.

He said the demand for natural gas was on the rise with the existing industries switching over to natural gas in addition of new cement and heavy industrial plants.

During the recent talks between Iranian Deputy Oil Minister Hadi Nejad Hosseinian, Pakistan had hiked its off-take from 2.1 billion cubic feet (bcfd) per day to 2.8 bcfd.

Analysts here believe that Pakistan speeded up the IPI process as a measure of defiance to the US, which has aired open objections over the project in view of its differences with Iran due to Tehran's controversial nuclear programme. Pakistan has shown haste ever since the US declined to offer a civilian nuclear deal to it, similar to the one Washington has signed with India.

In his talks with Ahmadinejad, Aziz also said there was no change in Pakistan's stand on the Iranian nuclear issue.

Pakistan has been voicing concern over the use of any force against Iran and has urged the international community to resolve the issue through negotiations.

Pakistan also supports Iran's use of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes under the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards. It is, however, opposed to proliferation of nuclear weapons, Aziz said.