Reuters: Iran, India and Pakistan have narrowed their differences over a planned $7 billion natural gas pipeline in talks in Tehran this week, a senior Iranian official was quoted as saying on Friday.
TEHRAN (Reuters) – Iran, India and Pakistan have narrowed their differences over a planned $7 billion natural gas pipeline in talks in Tehran this week, a senior Iranian official was quoted as saying on Friday.
The pipeline aims to feed the growing energy needs of the subcontinent but had earlier made slow progress due to political tensions between India and Pakistan, as well as international tension over Iran’s disputed nuclear programme.
Officials from the three countries held talks in the Iranian capital this week and Iran hopes to sign a final deal in Islamabad on June 30.
“Finally, there are just four or five items on which we have not reached an agreement yet … the negotiations over them will continue,” the IRNA news agency quoted senior Iranian energy official Hojjatollah Ghanimifard as saying.
He added that previously they could not agree on 16 items, but did not give details on issues that remained outstanding.
“The final meeting on June 30 will be in Islamabad,” Ghanimifard said.
Washington, which accuses Tehran of developing a covert nuclear weapons programme, has repeatedly sought to discourage India from the project. Tehran denies the charge.
Ghanimifard said that in the first stage of the planned contract 60 million cubic metres of gas per day would be exported to Pakistan and India.
If a second stage of exporting 150 million cubic metres of gas is reached another pipeline will be needed, he said.
Iran sits atop the world’s second largest gas reserves after Russia. But sanctions, politics and construction delays have slowed its gas development and analysts say it is unlikely to become a major exporter for a decade.
Apart from the pipeline, New Delhi is also negotiating with Iran to secure a deal that would see Tehran supply 5 million tonnes of liquefied natural gas (LNG) a year over a 25-year-period from 2009.