India "pulled out" of IPI under US pressure: Pak

Last Updated: Thursday, July 1, 2010 - 17:51

Islamabad: Three months after signing a USD
7.6 billion pact for a gas pipeline with Iran bilaterally,
Pakistan has hinted that India had "pulled out" of the
trilateral project under US pressure and said it could still
join.

"We never stopped India to be part of it
(Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project). India, on its own,
accord pulled out," Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told
agency in an interview here.
He contended that India "pulled out for obvious reasons"
but did not elaborate despite being asked repeatedly, saying
"you know it".

Qureshi was apparently hinting at the US which has been
asking India and Pakistan not to go ahead with the project,
saying it would benefit economically the Persian country which
is under four rounds of UN sanctions.

India maintains that it wants to be part of the project
but cannot go ahead till its concerns with regard to security
and issues related to pricing of gas are addressed.

Negotiations for the IPI project have been going on
since 2005 but India has not been participating in the talks
since 2007 citing its concerns.

Pakistan and Iran signed on March 17 the USD 7.6 billion
deal under which a pipeline will be constructed between Iran`s
South Fars gas field and southern Balochistan and Sindh
provinces to bring the natural resource to Pakistan.

Under the deal, 750 million cubic feet of gas will be
supplied to Pakistan daily from Iran by mid-2015.
Qureshi said Iran and Pakistan had done their utmost to
get India into the negotiations but "when India showed
reluctance, bilaterally we went ahead and signed the
agreement."

Asked whether India can join later, he said, "Yes, you
are welcome, there is provision for that."

India and Iran, which has the second-largest known gas
reserves in the world after Russia, have held several rounds
of talks but the former`s concerns could not be addressed.

The issue is likely to figure again at the India-Iran
Joint Commission meeting to be held in New Delhi next month.

India has been boycotting formal talks on the project
since 2007 over security concerns. It recently sought to
revive the talks and proposed dialogue with Iran to discuss
impediments in implementation of the pipeline project.

India wants Iran to be responsible for safe passage of
gas through 1,035-km pipeline in Pakistan and would pay for
the fuel only when it is delivered at Indian border.

Iran, on the other hand, has suggested a trilateral
mechanism, meaning contractual provisions among three
countries, to ensure safe delivery of gas to India. Under this
system, New Delhi pays for its share of gas even if the
supplies were to be disrupted in Pakistan.

PTI



First Published: Thursday, July 1, 2010 - 17:51

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