India, Iran meet on IPI pipeline

Dec. 17, 2008 at 4:45 PM
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NEW DELHI, Dec. 17 (UPI) -- Officials from India and Iran met Wednesday in New Delhi to discuss moving forward with plans to develop the Iran-Pakistan-India natural gas pipeline.

Indian Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon led a delegation of officials to discuss the $7.4 billion project to bring natural gas from the Iranian South Pars gas field east, New Delhi's Asian News International news agency reported Wednesday. The Iranian side was led by Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammad Mehdi Akhoundzadeh.

India has balked on moving ahead with talks on the pipeline over disputes over transit fees and concerns regarding the Pakistani route through volatile tribal areas.

"We know that Pakistan doesn't have control over the tribes through which the pipeline will pass," said Amitova Sengupta, financial director for the Indian side of the IPI talks.

Reports from the Pakistani newspaper The Post said India is too concerned with security and the pricing mechanisms but is in dire need of securing gas reserves amid declining domestic capacity.

Indian officials in November had suggested the global economic decline made alternative natural gas supplies cheaper, suggesting joining IPI was not necessary.

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