New Delhi: Iran on Tuesday said the "door was
open" for India to join the ambitious Iran-Pakistan-India gas
pipeline but indicated that it could not wait indefinitely and
the structure of the project could change in the future.
Iran has in place a bilateral arrangement with Pakistan
on the gas pipeline and both the countries have begun work on
the project, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said
"We have a bilateral arrangement with Pakistan and the
door is open for our Indian friends. That (IPI) will be a
reality...but I am not sure about the future," he said in an
interaction at the Indian Council of World Affairs.
Mottaki claimed that more than 100 km of the pipeline has
already been laid on the Iranian side and the Pakistani side
has also "started action" on its side of the border.
"But when you consider this pipeline bilaterally, there
is a definite capacity. If we make commitments with other
partners, with other pipelines, to other regions, in such a
case may be in the future the structure of the project may
change. I do hope to have Indian participation as soon as
possible," he said.
Mottaki said the issue was discussed during his
interactions with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and External
Affairs Minister S M Krishna yesterday.
"During our negotiations, there were some questions and
concerns and they needed some more consideration on this
project," he said.
Mottaki said there was a desire on the part of India to
go for this project and "definitely it will be a reality."
He said through the completion of the IPI project, the
three countries could present a "positive picture" of regional
cooperation among themselves.
The 2,775 km-long pipeline was conceived nearly 20 years
ago to deliver natural gas from Iran to Pakistan and India.
However, India has serious differences with Iran and
Pakistan over the security of the project, pricing of gas and
the delivery point in the country.
China too had expressed interest to join the proposed
Earlier delivering a speech, Mottaki pitched for creation
of a unified Asian framework for better coordination among
countries on strategic issues.
He said Asia lacked a framework for increasing
cooperation within the continent and it had several
sub-regional arrangements like the ASEAN and the Shanghai
He noted that Europe spoke in one voice through the
European Union while Africa also had a similar system.
Mottaki said that a pan-Asian framework was necessary as
it was this continent that was driving economic growth when
the world was facing a financial slowdown.