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Pak vows safety: Indo-Iran pipeline

Last updated on: January 15, 2004 19:43 IST

Pakistan pitched for India importing natural gas from Iran through a pipeline passing through its territory saying it will do everything possible to ensure safe delivery of gas from the onland pipeline, which will give Islamabad about $580 million in transit fee.

"We support the pipeline from Iran to energy hungry India via Pakistan. It's in everybody's interest and we should go for it," Pakistan's secretary for petroleum and natural resources, M Abdullah Yusuf said at the 5th Indian Oil and Gas Conference in New Delhi.

Yusuf, who also met his Indian counterpart B K Chaturvedi to discuss cooperation between the two countries, said surety of supplies can be ensured through multi-lateral agreements and Tehran is prepared to supply New Delhi alternate fuel like LNG in case of any disruption.

Both Iran and Pakistan are keen on the onland pipeline from South Iran to Delhi via Pakistan as it'll provide the former a cheap route to sell its vast gas reserves.

"It (the onland pipelines passing through Pakistan) is the cheapest option for India to meet its growing energy needs," he said.

After his meeting with Chaturvedi, Yusuf told reporters that Pakistan was willing to lift ban on import of Indian diesel.

"We import 4.5 million tonnes of diesel from Middle-East. If import from across the border make economic sense, we will do whatever it takes to remove diesel from the list of goods not permitted to be imported from India currently," he said.

Iran on its part said the proposed Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline will bring in huge economic benefits to the countries in the region and expressed hope that the issue will be taken more seriously by the leadership of India and Pakistan.

If pursued, the project would bring in huge economic and monetary benefits for the countries of the region, visiting Deputy Foreign Minister of Iran Mohsin Aminzadeh told reporters.

He said either Pakistan could use the gas for its requirements and get an annual revenue as the pipeline would be laid through Pakistan.

"We are hopeful that due to the positive impact of SAARC conference this issue will be now taken more seriously by the two sides."

The project, which envisages laying of pipelines from Iran to Gujarat through Pakistan covering a distance of about 1400 km could fetch $580 million, as annual royalty for Pakistan alone.

India, which was earlier reluctant to consider the project appeared willing to reconsider its stand in the light of emerging peace process between the two countries.
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