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No breakthrough in IPI gas pipeline project

However, the parties involved in the project have agreed to move further positively.

india Updated: May 24, 2006 10:52 IST

Talks among Pakistan, India and Iran on the tri-nation gas pipeline project on Tuesday remained largely inconclusive though the parties agreed to move further positively.

The two-day meeting of trilateral Joint Working Group of Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline project that concluded here on Tuesday decided to continue discussions on gas pricing while the three sides agreed that Iran will deliver the gas at Pakistan-Iran border to Pakistan and at Pakistan-India border to India.

Pakistan's Petroleum Secretary Ahmad Waqar, Iranian Deputy Oil Minister MH Nejad Hosseinian and India's Petroleum Secretary MS Srinivasan led their respective delegations.

Briefing media persons after the meeting along with the Iranian and Indian delegation heads, Waqar said the talks were held in a friendly atmosphere and they had a "frank and productive discussion on a number of technical, financial, legal and commercial issues".

"The project structure and gas pricing figured prominently during the meeting," he said.

On pricing, Waqar said it was agreed upon that the mechanism required more deliberations and expressed the hope that an agreement would be reached on the issue in the next trilateral meeting to be held in India in July.

It was also agreed that a project coordinator would be appointed to oversee its implementation.

Replying to a question on alleged the US pressure against the project, Waqar said President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz have mentioned on a number of occasions that they would keep national interests in view while taking any decision on the project.

"We are also pursuing the Turkmenistan-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project. We need energy from both the sides," he said.

Srinivasan added there was no pressure from anyone.

The Indian official said the implementation of the project was in the interest of all the parties.

"(Gas) Pricing has been a main factor for delay in implementation of the project," he said.

Srinivasan said the region's countries should cooperate in all sectors to improve the economy.

Hosseinian described the talks as successful and a step forward. "We can see implementation of the project soon," he said, adding that the countries will continue talks to further facilitate each other.

First Published: May 24, 2006 10:52 IST