IPI pipeline to be final soon(Lead)

April 30th, 2008 - 2:26 am ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, April 30 (IANS) India and Iran put their negotiation on fast track and agreed that oil ministers of the three countries will submit their final reports within 45 days to pave the way for the $7.5 billion transnational pipeline that will bring gas from Iran to India, via Pakistan. “Oil ministers of India, Iran and Pakistan will finalise their conclusion within 45 days and submit their report to the leaders of their respective countries. We are hopeful that we will be able to finalise the pipeline soon,” Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told reporters at Shangri-La hotel after talks with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here.

“Discussions were positive. Hope that it will be finalized in the near future,” the Iranian leader replied to a query on whether the pipeline featured in the talks.

Earlier, Indian Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon had said in a separate briefing that India had asked that the gas pipeline project be economically and commercially viable. He added that India also raised its traditional concerns about the pipeline - “the security of the pipeline and continuity of supply”.

On the issue of China’s participation in the pipeline project, the Iranian leader admitted that it had been discussed with the Pakistani leadership and urged that “all aspects should be considered”. The Indian response was even more muted. “That’s in the air. There is nothing concrete in it,” said Menon.

The Iranian president was evasive on a question on whether the LNG supply deal had been raised. There was also not much enthusiasm on this from the Indian side, with Menon just saying, “talks were on”.

Menon added that both sides felt that trade should be tripled from the present $10 billion soon.

Ahmadinaejad praised India for giving a fitting response to the US suggestion that New Delhi should use the opportunity of his visit to raise the nuclear issue. “Indian officials gave a very good and appropriate response to this,” he said.

Iran admitted that India’s negative vote in the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in 2005 had an impact briefly on relations between the two countries, but they have since moved onto building better ties.

“Every vote has an impact. Relations between India and iran are much deeper. The issue is related to past times, we are looking forward to building better relations,” said Ahmadinejad. At one time during the press conference, he said, “I am your younger brother” and that bilateral ties were “very good”.

Iran underlined that the US attempt to influence its relations with India will not succed as the two countries have long standing historical and cultural ties.

Taking potshots at the US’ “bullying power”, Ahmadinejad said Washington was trying to deprive other nations like Iran of peaceful uses of nuclear energy and was responsible for spreading chaos and instability in the region.

“The government of India supports peaceful activities of the Iranian nuclear programme. We are two friends. There is no place for concern or worry,” Ahmadinejad replied when asked whether Manmohan Singh expressed any concern about the nature of Iran’s nuclear programme.

Vehemently defending Iran’s right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy, Ahmadinejad said, “All cooperation with IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) is going in a usual way”

“Bullying power can’t affect the determination of the Iranian people. They (US) are at the end of the road,” said the Iranian leader, describing Washington as a “falling power”.

Taking a dig at the US for allegedly acting against the interest of the egion, Ahmadinejad said, “They (US) are contrary to the development of friendship between countries. They will not have any impact on the relationship between our two countries”

The Iranian president arrived in India about an hour late, at 5.30 p.m. He met with the President Pratibha Patil at 6 p.m.

This was followed by three hours of talks with the Indian prime minister, including dinner, at 7, Race Course Road from 6.45 p.m. The Iranians gave a detailed briefing on the nuclear issue during the talks.

Ahmadinejad also met External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Foreign Secretary Menon and National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan.

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