Pakistan, Iran may start gas project without India

October 10th, 2008 - 6:48 pm ICT by IANS  

Islamabad, Oct 10 (DPA) Pakistan and Iran said Friday they would undertake bilaterally a proposed $7.5 billion cross-border gas pipeline venture if India delayed joining the project.”Iran and Pakistan have expressed their desire to finalise their very important project of a pipeline and exporting gas bilaterally,” Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said after a meeting with his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi in Islamabad.

The 2,000-km Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) pipeline project was formally proposed by the three countries in 2003. When completed it was planned to transfer 60 million cubic meters of natural gas per day from Iran’s South Pars field that would equally be shared by Pakistan and India.

But the project ran into snags on the gas pricing formula issue and following pressure on New Delhi from Washington, which says the project would undermine international efforts to dissuade Iran from its nuclear ambitions.

Some media reports suggested that India has requested the other two partners postpone the IPI talks until its nuclear agreement with the US is finalised.

The Iranian foreign minister Friday said India could become its partner later on.

“Whenever the third party is ready (it) can join us and that will help to use the time and avoiding the wasting of time to finalise
this important project,” he added.

Qureshi said Iran could supply an additional 1,000 megawatts of electricity to Islamabad to overcome the power crisis the country was
currently facing.

“Pakistan will be more than happy to purchase this from Iran,” Qureshi said.

The two top diplomats also discussed the security situation in the region, especially in violence-hit Afghanistan which shares borders with both countries.

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