India rebuffs US calls to shun Iran gas talks
Saturday, April 3, 2010
India has rejected a call from the US to shun participation in gas talks with Iran, saying "energy security" is a priority for New Delhi.
Iran and Pakistan signed a deal in March to construct a multi-billion dollar natural gas pipeline connecting the two neighboring countries — a project that was strongly opposed by the US. The deal is part of the long-delayed 7.5-billion-dollar Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline project.
"We have no comments to make on what the US official has said. But energy security is of prime concern to the government, and the India-Pakistan-Iran pipeline has to be seen in this context," The Hindustan Times quoted an official with India's foreign ministry as saying.
"We are in discussions for thrashing out the two issues. One is pricing of the gas, the other is the security of the pipeline that passes through Pakistan," the official added.
Earlier, India expressed its willingness to resume talks with Iran on the project and also to discuss with Iran an alternative sea-bed pipeline from that would bypass Pakistan.
"We had initiated the trilateral talks in 2007 among the three governments and such discussions are ongoing," Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas Murli Deora told reporters at the Consulate General of India in New York.
China is also showing keen interest in investing USD 2.5 billion in the gas pipeline project in order to meet the country's energy demands.
Islamabad has started negotiations with Beijing over the purchase of technical equipment to be used for extending the gas pipeline to China, informed sources in Pakistan's oil ministry said, Mehr News Agency reported on Monday.
China's interest in the extension of the pipeline came after Islamabad's reluctance to cooperate with New Delhi on the IPI project allegedly due to India's delay in developing the Peace Pipeline project.
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