Iran on Thursday said it will not set any deadline for India to join the gas pipeline that also includes Pakistan and hoped New Delhi will not buckle under US pressure to dump the multi-billion dollar project for a rival pipeline from Turkmenistan. “We have not set any deadline (for India to join the IPI pipeline project),” Iranian Oil Minister Gholam Hossein Nozari told reporters in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
India has since September not attended any meeting called to finalize the pipeline project, saying it wanted to resolve the transit fee issue with Pakistan before trilateral talks. Undeterred by India’s boycott, Iran and Pakistan have held a few rounds of discussions and on Saturday finalized the content of a bilateral export gas deal and they now plan to execute the contract within a month.
“What we are told is that they (India) have kept their interest in the project… Both Iran and Pakistan expect and welcome India to join the project… we have not and will not set any deadlines (for India joining the project),” he said.
New Delhi and Islamabad have reached broad understanding on the transportation tariff payable to Pakistan for wheeling the gas through the pipeline passing in that country. But the two nations have not yet agreed on payment of a separate transit fee to Pakistan for allowing passage of the fuel.
“We have been told that there are differences between India and Pakistan over certain issues, one of them being transit fee,” Nozari said. “We hope they resolve the differences soon.”