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Iran says India can still join gas pipeline deal

world Updated: May 26, 2009 12:34 IST
IANS
Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline project

India can still join the Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline project, the Iranian foreign ministry said, a day after Islamabad and Tehran signed a pact on the export of Iranian gas.

"Up to now, no Indian official has stated his country’s withdrawal from the project and we hope they make their decision soon,” Hojjatollah Ghanimifard, the representative of Iranian oil minister to the IPI talks, said on Monday.

“India has seemingly changed its strategy for meeting domestic energy needs in the long run,” Ghanimifard was quoted as saying by Mehr news agency.

“India still has the choice to resume gas talks with Iran and Pakistan.”

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his Pakistani counterpart Asif Ali Zardari inked an agreement in Tehran on Sunday finalising the deal to transfer gas from Iran to Pakistan.

According to the deal, Iran will initially transfer 30 million cubic metres of gas per day to Pakistan, but will eventually increase the gas transfer to 60 million cubic metres per day.

India had been part of the $7 billion project also called the "peace pipeline", but stayed away from talks in September saying it wanted to agree upon transit costs through Pakistan on a bilateral basis first.

The pipeline project was conceptualised in 1990. Negotiations over the project were initiated in 1994 between the three countries but there were obstacles to closing the three-way deal due to tension between India and Pakistan, according to IRNA.

The IPI gas pipeline is a proposed 2,775-km pipeline to deliver natural gas from Iran to Pakistan and India.

The project is expected to greatly benefit India and Pakistan, which do not have sufficient natural gas to meet their rapidly increasing domestic demand for energy.

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