US working against region: Iranian envoy

April 28th, 2008 - 9:45 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh
By Manish Chand
New Delhi, April 28 (IANS) A day before Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad comes here for a six-hour stopover visit, Iran Monday made a veiled attack on the US saying those opposed to the tri-nation Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project are working against economic prosperity of the region. “If somebody opposes this decision, we have to see what’s their purpose and to verify it,” Iranian Ambassador to India Syed Mehdi Nabizadeh told IANS here.

“We know this cooperation will help the people of the region and raise their economic condition,” the Iranian envoy replied when asked why the US was opposing the proposed $7.5 billion pipeline that will bring Iranian gas to India via Pakistan.

“We are neighbours. More cooperation will have positive effect on the region and on the economics of the region,” he pointed out while projecting the pipeline as a symbol of peace and prosperity entwining three important countries of the area.

“It will be a general bilateral visit. The pipeline will be discussed, but other regional and international issues will also be discussed,” said the Iranian envoy ahead of talks between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Ahmadinejad Tuesday evening.

“The discussions will prepare the ground for the pipeline project to move forward,” he said.

“I hope the president’s trip, although very short, will have good results for the region and for both countries,” he said.

Sounding upbeat about the prospects of the pipeline, the Iranian envoy said the “main discussions” between the three countries have already taken place and it was now for India and Pakistan to resolve issues related to transit and transportation fees.

“As far as the pricing of Iranian gas is concerned, this can be resolved between India and Iran after India and Pakistan have sorted out transit and transportation fees,” he said.

Ahamdinejad has thrown his political weight behind the pipeline project, which is being opposed by the US on grounds that it will bring India and Iran closer to each other and defeat its efforts to isolate Tehran over its suspected nuclear programme.

In a complex game of intra-power rivalry, the US has backed the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline in the hope that it will derail India from pursuing the Iran project and undermine Russian control over huge reserves of gas in the Central Asian country.

India is, however, keen to pursue both IPI and TAPI projects to boost energy security for its growing economy.

To underline the importance of its relations with Iran, India told off the US last week for offering gratuitous “guidance” on its Iran relations, saying it was for the IAEA to determine the nature of the Iranian nuclear programme and not for any individual country.

Last week, oil ministers of India and Pakistan agreed to sign a bilateral agreement on the pipeline and to start work on constructing the nearly 2,600 km pipeline by 2010.

India is also keen to revive a stalled $25 billion deal under which Iran will supply 5 million tonnes of LNG annually to India.

Ahmadinejad discussed the pipeline project with Pakistan’s leaders during his brief four-hour stopover in Islamabad Monday and the two countries agreed to sign a bilateral agreement soon.

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