Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Iran-India gas pipeline gets Musharraf’s nod

Manoj Kumar, Tribune News Service:
Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf today gave the go-ahead to the joint participation of India and Pakistan to set up the Iran-India gas pipeline passing through Pakistan. Estimated to cost $ 4 billion, it will meet the long-term gas needs of both countries. READ MORE

Allaying US concerns about the deal with Iran, both countries aim to take off the project by early next year. It will include gas pipelines from Turkmenistan and Qatar to Pakistan.

In a joint statement issued at the end of three-day visit of Indian Petroleum Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar to Pakistan, both countries agreed “the project, which envisaged the supply of gas to Pakistan and India through a transnational pipeline, would go a long way in meeting the energy security requirements of the two countries and, thus, should be seen as a significant project for the benefit of the peoples of these countries.”

The Indian and Pakistani delegations agreed to exchange information on the financial structuring, technical, commercial, legal and related issues to realise a safe and secure world class project. A joint working group at the Secretary-level, would be set up in this regard.

He said Pakistan would consider India’s proposal to import 3,25,000 tonnes of diesel at a competitive price. India would submit its proposal in the Secretary-level talks, and expect that Pakistan would shift import of diesel to the positive list in the next review.

Reiterating his stand on the US concerns, Mr Aiyar told reporters: “The issue of US pressure did not figure at all in my about hour-long meeting with the Pakistan President.” However, he added that India was aware of US concerns but trusted that the USA would also take care of the energy needs of both countries.

Today’s joint statement is in accordance with the joint press statement of April 18 in New Delhi issued by President of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister of India Manmohan Singh.

Referring to the financing and involvement of India in the gas pipeline, Mr Aiyar said, “Three stakeholders have enough capacity to fund a project worth over say, $ 5 billion spread over five years”. However, he agreed with Pakistan Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz’s suggestion to follow the “best financial practices to build a world class project that may require the involvement of financial institutions.”