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New Delhi calls for IPI talks

March 19, 2010 at 9:43 AM   |   Comments

NEW DELHI, March 19 (UPI) -- India called on Pakistan and Iran to sit down for trilateral talks in Tehran in May to hammer out lingering issues on a three-nation gas pipeline, officials said.

Iran and Pakistan signed a deal Tuesday in Ankara for a long-delayed pipeline from the South Pars gas complex in the Persian Gulf. Originally proposed as the Iran-Pakistan-India project, New Delhi balked on the original version of the pipeline in part because of a civilian nuclear energy deal with the United States.

Indian Secretary of the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas S. Sundareshan told the India newspaper The Hindu that New Delhi had outstanding issues to resolve before signing on to the full project.

"We are looking forward to a positive response in this connection," he said. "India has certain important issues that need to be addressed before we sign up for the IPI pipeline deal."

New Delhi wants an arrangement where it pays only for the gas it takes from the Pakistani border. Tehran, however, wants to charge New Delhi for its share of the gas in the pipeline even if supplies in Pakistan are disrupted.

New Delhi has said security in Pakistan is an issue for the planned 643-mile gas pipeline.

Washington favors a rival project that would move Turkmen gas through Afghanistan because of opposition to any economic incentive for Iran.

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