Thursday, April 14, 2005

Pak. not to abandon Iran gas pipeline project

The Hindu:
Pakistan will not abandon a planned pipeline to get gas from Iran despite American opposition to the project, a government minister has said. READ MORE

"We will make decision in the interest of Pakistan and not anybody else," Pakistan's Minister for Petroleum, Amanullah Khan Jadoon, told a news conference at the end of two days of talks with oil ministers from Afghanistan and Turkmenistan yesterday.

Jadoon did not specify what opposition the United States had to the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline.

Last month, US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, said during a visit to Pakistan that the United States opposed the pipeline, but she didn't say whether Washington objected to Pakistan's participation.

The pipeline, which Iran proposed in 1996, would carry gas from Iran to India and Pakistan. But the deal has been held up due to India's concerns about the pipeline's security in Pakistan, with which it shares a history of hostile relations.

Meanwhile, Jadoon said Pakistan, Afghanistan and Turkmenistan expect to reach an agreement soon on another long-delayed pipeline connecting the three countries.

He said the three countries' oil ministers would meet again in July in Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan and that work on the pipeline could begin by end of the year.

The project has been delayed since the hardline Taliban came to power in Afghanistan in the 1990s, and insecurity in the country is believed to be holding up the project.