IRAN: India deeply committed to Iran gas pipeline

India is optimistic about the 2,775-km Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline and is deeply committed to the multi-billion dollars project, Union Petroleum Minister Murli Deora said on Thursday.

"Iranian Ambassador to India spoke to me Wednesday and they are very keen that the project takes shape as it is in the interest of all (the) three countries," Deora said while talking to PTI.

Asked whether he would be visiting Tehran, Deora said, "I have received an invitation" and indicated that he might make a trip at an appropriate time.

While admitting that India could not participate in a couple of meetings because of local situation, Deora said, "India is deeply committed to the pipeline project. We hope it will go through. Iran is very keen we should go ahead." Deora replied in the negative when asked whether the US was pressurising India not to go ahead with the project.

"I have not seen any pressure and we have to take care of our energy needs," he said.

Though New Delhi and Islamabad have reached an understanding on the transportation tariff payable to Pakistan for wheeling gas through the 1,035-km pipeline segment in that country, the two nations have not yet arrived at any agreement on payment of a separate transit fee to Pakistan for using its territory.

The pipeline is slated to be laid in the three nations separately.

Iran would lay a 1,100-km pipeline from the Persian Gulf to the Iran- Pakistan border, while Pakistan would lay 1,035 km from its border with Iran to the Indian border.

India would then pipe the gas to consumption centres. The total cost of the project was estimated to be over seven billion dollars in 2006.

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