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India committed to Iran-Pak-India pipeline: Aiyar

Mani Shankar Aiyar refuted a report that India may opt out of the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline.

india Updated: Jan 13, 2006 22:18 IST

Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar on Friday refuted a report that India may opt out of the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline, stressing that New Delhi was "fully committed" to the project.

"It is completely wrong to suggest that either I or any one in authority in India has advocated withdrawing from the Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline," Aiyar said.

"The story to this effect is completely misplaced. I deny this report," Aiyar told a news agency in Beijing before returning to India after a three-day official visit to China.

"We stand fully committed to the Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline," he said.

"It will be recalled that on February 9, 2005, the Cabinet had authorised me to embark on bilateral discussions with Iran and Pakistan authorities to purchase at the India border natural gas that would be piped from Iran through Pakistan to the Indo-Pak border.

"In consequence of that decision, there have been several meetings between me and my counterparts and also a series of meetings of the India-Pakistan Working Group, the India-Iran Working Group and the Iran-Pakistan Working Group," he said.

The stage has now been set for "shifting from the trilateral mode to bilateral mode, which can't be made without Cabinet sanction," Aiyar said.

First Published: Jan 13, 2006 22:18 IST