Indian concerns on Iran gas pipeline remain; China shows interest

June 26th, 2008 - 9:54 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi/Islamabad, June 26 (IANS) India’s concerns over “uninterrupted supply” of natural gas and the security aspect of the tri-nation pipeline has not yet been addressed by Iran or Pakistan, a senior Indian official said on Thursday. India has made it clear that it was keen to see the implementation of the proposed Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline. “We need the gas for our economic growth,” the senior official said.

But he pointed out that the proposed project was dependent on three aspects-the commercial and economic viability, assured supply and security and risk mitigation. “So far we are not satisfied about our concerns over assured and uninterrupted supply and about the security of the pipeline,” the official added.

The issue was likely to be raised with the Pakistani Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi when he arrives here Friday on a three-day official visit. Among other things, the two sides will discuss the fate of the pipeline; particularly how well the concerns raised by India were being addressed.

Qureshi will hold talks with External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukeherjee on the entire gamut of their bilateral ties as also on the proposed gas pipeline.

Mukherjee is scheduled to travel to Teheran in July to attend the Non Aligned Movement (NAM) foreign ministers’ meeting. There is every chance that he will get a chance to talk to his Iranian hosts on the sideline of the meeting and will take the opportunity of talking about the gas pipeline and the progress made on the Indian concerns.

“We are willing to raise the and discuss the issue at every available opportunity,” the government official said.

Meanwhile, reports from Islamabad said China has shown interest in joining the ambitous $7.5 billion pipeline project, and Beijing’s inclusion in the project was being done with Iran’s consent.

The project was first proposed in the late eighties with expectations that it will benefit both India and Pakistan that do not have sufficient natural gas to meet growing domestic demand for energy. However, it was delayed over the years because of New Delhi’s security concerns and issues of pricing which are still to be resolved.

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