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Business not politics dictates IPI gas pipeline

world Updated: Apr 02, 2010 13:32 IST

PTI
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India's Petroleum Ministry has said that a decision on joining the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline should not be governed by politics, although talks have hit roadblocks on issues ranging from pricing of gas to security of the pipeline.

"The Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline discussions have been going on," said Petroleum Secretary S Sundareshan, who was
accompanying Oil Minister Murli Deora during his stay in New York after returning from the International Energy Forum in Cancun.

"We must leave the politics aside, ultimately this pipeline project can progress if the gas is variable at
reasonable rates at the India-Pakistan border," he added.

"It's basically going to be a business decision at the end of the day."

Conceived over a decade ago, the IPI is a proposed 2,775-km pipeline to deliver natural gas from Iran to Pakistan
and India.

Besides pricing, discussions have been halted over India's security concerns with Pakistan and persisting
tensions between the neighbours.

The last trilateral meeting was held in 2007. At times, New Delhi is also understood to be under pressure from Washington to scrap the deal.

Three years after India went cold on the talks, on the sidelines of the meeting in Cancun, Deora proposed restarting
trilateral talks in Tehran in May.

"I am ready to hold talks with both Iran and Pakistan representatives here in Cancun. We need certain assurances on
supply of gas and also on the point of delivery from Iran," Deora said in Mexico.

The Secretary here reiterated that two outstanding issues remained the price formula and India's insistence for the gas to be delivered at the India-Pakistan border and not at the Pakistan-Iran border.

"We would have to pay for the gas only when it reached us. We can't be taking the risk of gas going through Pakistan
on our shoulders," he told journalists here.

"These are aspects that have to be discussed and we are continuing our discussions."

Meanwhile, Iran and Pakistan have pushed ahead with signing the last of the contracts on a bilateral basis without
India.

In Cancun, however, Pakistan guaranteed India safety of the pipeline and suggested giving New Delhi an equity stake in
the section passing through its territory as additional surety of safe delivery of the fuel.