Iran May not Sign Gas Pipeline Pact with Pakistan Next Week

A0334110.jpgTEHRAN (FNA) Iran is unlikely to sign next week a bilateral agreement with Pakistan for export of natural gas and has said it was keen on India joining the tri-nation ‘peace’ pipeline project.

“As we speak, there is no ceremony scheduled for signing of Gas Sales Purchase Agreement (GSPA) with Pakistan next week,” a senior Iranian official told PTI from Tehran.

While New Delhi has since June 2007 left unattended meetings on the seven billion dollar Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project over the issue of transit fee payable to Islamabad.

Iran and Pakistan have held several rounds of discussions and were reported close to signing a bilateral deal. Pakistan’s caretaker Petroleum Minister Ahsan Ullah Khan had earlier this week stated that an economic coordination committee of the Pakistani Cabinet had cleared sovereign guarantees for gas imports from Iran and a GSPA with Iran was likely to be signed next week.

“Those are statements made by Pakistan. We haven’t said that we are signing a bilateral GSPA. We are very keen that India joins the project,” the Iranian official said. “We are proposing a trilateral meeting in New Delhi next month.”

Iran would like a stable and high demand consumer like India to back the multi-billion dollar revenues it expects to earn every year from sale of natural gas.

Indian officials also said though a bilateral meeting with Pakistan was scheduled to take place in Islamabad on February 14-16 to resolve the transit fee issue, no agreement was likely unless elections take place in that country and a new government is sworn in.

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