India, Iran to hold talks on gas pipeline project today

December 17th, 2008 - 12:26 pm ICT by ANI  

Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, Dec 17 (ANI): India and Iran will hold talks on the proposed 7.4 billion dollar Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline project here today.
The two sides are expected to discuss ways to break the deadlock over the project during a high-level meeting. The Foreign Office Consultations are also expected to deliberate on ways to step up cooperation in various other fields.
Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon will lead the Indian delegation while the Iranian side will be led by Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammad Mehdi Akhoundzadeh.
Earlier, both sides had decided to set up a trilateral Ministerial mechanism to resolve various issues related to the project. Under the mechanism, the Oil Ministers level meeting between India, Pakistan and Iran will take place to address different issues related to the project. The decision has been taken after a request from India to Iran and reflects India’’s strong willingness to go ahead with the IPI project to fulfill its energy needs.
India has been boycotting the talks over the pipeline project since August 2007 over transit fee demanded by Pakistan for passage of gas through that country. On April 30, Ahmedinejad met Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and had claimed that the two sides had decided to address the issue in 45 days. In June, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who met Oil Minister Murli Deora said that the two sides have resolved all bilateral issues. However, there has been no progress. Besides differing on transit fee issue, India also has apprehensions about security of the pipeline, as it will pass through restive parts of Pakistan. Tehran feels that New Delhi had delayed the project because of the Indo-US nuclear deal and is hoping that the pipeline initiative will see forward movement since the atomic agreement has been completed. (ANI)

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