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Pipeline deal to go ahead: Diplomat

Iranian ambassador to Greece Mehdi Mohtashami denied rumours that multi-billion dollar deal may be cancelled.

india Updated: Jan 19, 2006 18:25 IST

Iran is looking forward to completing the Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline deal as scheduled, despite moves by some quarters to scuttle the project, according to diplomats from Tehran here.

Speaking to newspersons on Wednesday, Mehdi Mohtashami, the Iranian ambassador to Greece, denied rumours that the deal may be cancelled.

According to INEP agency, he said: "There is already an executive conclusion reached with respect to the legality and technicality over the project and Tehran is looking forward to put the positive feasibility report into action very soon and to complete it within a stipulated timeframe."

Mohtashami's views come close on the heels of recent remarks in Beijing by Indian Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas Mani Shankar Aiyar that India had not withdrawn from the project.

Aiyar is reported to have said: "It is completely wrong to suggest that neither I nor any one in authority in India has advocated withdrawing from the Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline.

"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 Pakistan-India border."

The United States had reiterated last week that it was "absolutely opposed" to a natural gas pipeline project linking Iran with Pakistan and India, even though it was seen as feasible by an Asian Development Bank (ADB) expert.

The 2,600-km pipeline is estimated to cost more than $7 billion and is expected to be finished by 2012.

First Published: Jan 19, 2006 11:23 IST