Iran to ask India for spurring tri-nation pipeline

August 27th, 2012 - 8:39 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, Aug 27 (IANS) Don’t write off the tri-nation Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline as yet. When Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinjead meets Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Tehran Wednesday, he is expected to pitch for fast-tracking the project, ahead of a meeting of energy officials of the three countries in Islamabad.

The joint working group on hydrocarbons comprises officials of the energy ministries of the three countries.

The meeting is expected to revive the stalled negotiations over the ambitious $7 billion pipeline proposal that seeks to bring Iranian gas via Pakistan to India, reliable sources said.

Iran and Pakistan have already sealed a bilateral deal on the pipeline, but India has tended to vacillate due to a host of reasons. Iran, the most ardent backer of the project, has however not given up on India joining what Tehran projects as the “peace pipeline” connecting the three countries in a web of prosperity.

India has security concerns as the proposed pipeline passes through the volatile regions of Pakistan’s Balochistan province. The talks have also deadlocked over transport and transit fees with Pakistan.

Apart from scepticism about the economic and logistical unviability of the pipeline, it is being opposed by the US, which feels it will amount to defeating its larger strategy of isolating Tehran in the region.

In India, the pipeline has been virtually written off, but there are signs that it may be revived.

Early this month, a parliamentary panel asked the petroleum ministry to “vigorously” pursue and settle all pending issues related to the project as it would help address the country’s energy gap.

In a report, the standing committee on petroleum and natural gas sought the earliest possible start for the project.

Besides, India in May signed on to Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline. The gas from the pipeline is expected to start flowing into energy-starved India in another five years, official sources said.

India has signed the gas sales-purchase agreement for the $7.6 billion project that is to begin in Turkmenistan and pass through Afghanistan and Pakistan before terminating in India.

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