Iran, Pakistan Set to Expedite Gas Pipeline

A04461993.jpgTEHRAN (FNA)- Negotiations over the construction of Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project are still the focus of discussions between Tehran and Islamabad, despite New Delhi’s absence from talks.

Iranian and Pakistani presidents seem to be ignoring India’s absence in talks, seeking to implement the project through joint cooperation between the two countries.

Tehran and Islamabad announced last week that they have decided to take the necessary steps to raise the required funds for the implementation of the project. So it seems the two neighbors are determined to put the project on route despite the absence of New Delhi.

Iran and Pakistan agreed last Tuesday to accelerate the process of Iran-Pakistan $7.4bln gas pipeline project and founded a joint company for raising the required capital. The decision was made in a meeting between Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his Pakistani counterpart Asef Ali Zardari on the sidelines of the 63rd UN General Assembly meeting in New York.

At the meeting the two presidents discussed an extensive range of issues between the two countries. They also emphasized establishment of a committee consisting of five high ranking officials from both countries to finalize the gas pipeline project and coordinate the corresponding activities.

The two presidents also reiterated completion of the 2700 km pipeline project to transfer natural gas from Iran’s South Pars field to Multan, Pakistan. The collaboration took place one day before the above negotiations and after the explosion in Islamabad, in which the Iranian authorities requested a change in the formula of determining gas prices and demanded security insurance in transfer of gas from Iran to Pakistan, informed sources and newspapers in Pakistan said.

Informed sources in Pakistan’s Oil Ministry announced that following last Tuesday’s explosion in Islamabad, Iran once again demanded security guarantees for the peace pipeline.

India had repeatedly posed the lack of security in implementation of the peace gas pipeline project as an excuse in delaying its decision in finalizing the project.

But now this is Iran, which has expressed its concerns in this regard and demanded Islamabad to ensure the security for the construction of the pipeline.

Quoting informed sources in the Oil Ministry, Pakistan’s newspaper Daily Times announced that Iran has asked Pakistan to include a paragraph in the Gas Sales Purchase Agreement regarding the security measures. According to this clause, Iran can suspend the gas supply in case of security threats.

The same Pakistani sources also said, “Pakistan has given Iran written assurances in this regard.” However, after the suicide bombing in front of Islamabad’s Marriot Hotel, Iran renewed its request in this regard.

The request was made while Russian RIA Novosti news agency reported that India once again stalled construction of the peace pipeline.

The Russian news agency, citing a Bloomberg interview with Iranian Oil Minister Gholam Hossein Nozari, said that India is going to suspend the joint agreement among the three countries for the construction of the peace pipeline, probably under internal or external pressures.

According to the agency, Nozari has underlined that the gas reserves belong to Iran and his country does not intend to beg countries which are in need of it.

“Other neighboring countries and Europe are ready to buy Iran’s gas and there is no problem in its sale,” Nozari was quoted as saying.

The remarks by the Iranian oil minister and President Ahmadinejad’s insistence on implementation of the gas pipeline project show that despite New Delhi’s delays, Tehran and Islamabad are determined to carry out the project.

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