Pakistan Invites India for Talks on Gas Pipeline

A00681362.jpgTEHRAN (FNA) – Petroleum Ministers of India and Pakistan held discussions in London on a multi-billion-dollar gas pipeline project involving the two countries and Iran, with both sides expressing their keenness to put it on stream.

Petroleum and natural gas minister Murli Deora was invited by his Pakistani counterpart Ahsan Ullah Khan to visit Islamabad to sort out various issues outstanding because of which the pipeline is pending during their meeting held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in London yesterday, Business Standard said.

Deora assured the Pakistani minister that “India is keen” on the 2,775-km pipeline and issues like the transit fees and strategic investment should be sorted out.

Khan, who is accompanying President Pervez Musharraf during his current visit to Britain, insisted that “Pakistan is equally keen that the project is put on stream,” official sources told PTI.

Though New Delhi and Islamabad have reached an understanding on the transportation tariff payable to Pakistan, the two nations have not yet arrived at any agreement on payment of a separate transit fee to Pakistan for using its territory.

Three-fourth of the pipeline will be passing through Pakistan which will also use the pipeline for providing gas to its consumers. The pipeline is to be laid in the three nations separately. Iran would lay a 1,100-km pipeline from the Persian Gulf to the Iran-Pakistan border, while Pakistan would lay a 1,035 km from its border with Iran to the Indian border. India would then pipe the gas to consumption centers.

The total cost of the project was estimated to be over $7.4 billion in 2006.

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