Iran, Pakistan to Hold Final Round of Talks on IPI Pipeline

A01802265.jpgTEHRAN (Fars News Agency)- Pakistan and Iran will hold the final round of technical talks on the USD 7.4 billion Iran- Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline project in Islamabad next week to review a draft gas purchase agreement even as New Delhi feels that the transit fee demanded by Islamabad “is too high”.

The talks, to be held on December 11-12, will fine tune the draft agreement which was drawn up during talks between the two sides in Tehran last month without the participation of India, which is the third partner in the project.

Almost all corrections in the technical aspects and language of the draft were completed during the last round of talks, an official of Pakistan’s petroleum ministry said.

Pakistan is expected to import 60 million cubic meters of gas a day through the pipeline. Iran will start supplying gas to Pakistan by 2013, the official told the Daily Times.

The official said it was “unclear if India will rejoin the IPI project”.

However, Indian government sources said the country’s participation in the project hinged on the transit fee charged by Pakistan for the Iranian gas.

“The transit fee is too high. The IPI project has bilateral and trilateral aspects. There is little point in proceeding with the trilateral aspects till a bilateral issue like the transit fee to be charged by Pakistan is sorted out,” an Indian government source said.

This point had been conveyed to the Pakistan government, the sources said.

The Pakistani petroleum ministry official said Islamabad was ready to hold talks with New Delhi on the transit fee to resolve differences.

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