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India, Iran, Pak discuss gas pipeline

All three routes - northern, central, southern - will have to pass through the insurgency-hit Balochistan where violence has been worsening.
None | By Agence France-Presse, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 21, 2006 12:06 PM IST

Indian, Pakistani and Iranian officials met in Tehran on Tuesday to discuss routes for a multi-billion-dollar gas pipeline and gas pricing, Minister of State for petroleum said.

All three routes -- northern, central and southern -- would have to pass through Pakistan's Balochistan province where separatist violence has been worsening, Minister Dinsha Patel told Parliament.

"The Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline would have to cross Balochistan in any logical route option," he said.

"However, adequate safeguards would be built into the project structure to ensure the safety and security of gas supplied to India," he said, adding that each route would be studied in detail for a project report.

Patel said the three-way talks, set to continue on Wednesday and Thursday, would also address gas pricing, project structure and a tripartite government-to-government framework agreement.

Fuel-import dependent India has been urgently seeking new sources of energy to feed its booming economy.

The pipeline project will bring Iran revenue, Pakistan transit fees and India energy. The countries hope to start building the pipeline in 2007.

The Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline project envisages a line of about 2,600-kilometres from Assaluyeh in Iran to the India-Pakistan border.

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