Thursday, April 06, 2006

Russia may join Iran pipeline

Russia said it is interested in joining the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline as an active partner.

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradikov conveyed this to Indian premier Manmohan Singh during a recent visit to New Delhi.

The Russian ambassador to India, Vyacheslav I. Trubnikov, disclosed this at a seminar on Indo-Russian relations, the United News of India news agency reported.

The $7.4 billion pipeline is expected to feed India's growing energy needs.

The controversial pipeline is opposed by the United States, but comments Wednesday by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee suggested Washington was resigned to fact the pipeline may go ahead. READ MORE

"What confidence do we have that if this amendment of the 1954 Atomic Energy Act occurs that that reliance on Iranian energy won't go forward, anyway, that a pipeline won't be built anyway?" Sen. Lincoln Chaffee, R-R.I., asked Rice.

Rice replied: "Well, I can't be assured that it will not. But let me just note that India is of course not the only country with an oil and gas relationship with Iran. Some of our closest allies -- Japan -- has an oil and gas relationship with Iran. The Europeans, Italy is Iran's largest trading partner. So, most countries have a different relationship with Iran than we do."

Rice was on Capitol Hill selling the Bush administration's civilian nuclear deal with India.