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India, Pak may hold talks on gas pipeline
November 18, 2004 14:36 IST
India is likely to discuss the fate of the proposed $4.16 billion Iran-India gas pipeline during talks with Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz next week.
The issue of the gas pipeline passing through Pakistani territory is likely to figure when Petroleum Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar calls on the visiting dignitary on November 23.
"(The pipeline project) will be discussed in the larger context of economic and trade relations with Pakistan. There is no set agenda... let us see how it evolves," Aiyar told the Economic Editors Conference in New Delhi.
The security of gas supplies to India through the 2775-km pipeline, 760-km of which will pass through Pakistan, may be discussed.
"We have agreed to talk to each other instead of talking at each other or through anybody else. I hope this will be a good beginning," he said.
Aiyar said he had written to his Pakistani counterpart to "begin a conversation on how we could possibly use Pakistan as transit corridor to bring gas from Iran. My letter is still awaiting a reply."
Iran has been pursuing the pipeline proposal, which will save India millions of dollars in energy cost, with New Delhi and Islamabad since 1996.The ice on the issue was broken when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf agreed in New York in September to look at the project as a contributor "to the welfare and prosperity of the people of both countries."