Door open for India to join IPI gas pipeline

Door open for India to join IPI gas pipeline

New Delhi: Iran Tuesday said the “door was open" for India to join the ambitious Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline but indicated that it could not wait indefinitely and the structure of the project could change in the future.

Iran has in place a bilateral arrangement with Pakistan on the gas pipeline and both the countries have begun work on the project, Iranian foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki said here.

“We have a bilateral arrangement with Pakistan and the door is open for our Indian friends. That (IPI) will be a reality...but I am not sure about the future," he said in an interaction at the Indian Council of World Affairs.

Mottaki claimed that more than 100 km of the pipeline has already been laid on the Iranian side and the Pakistani side has also “started action" on its side of the border.

“But when you consider this pipeline bilaterally, there is a definite capacity. If we make commitments with other partners, with other pipelines, to other regions, in such a case may be in the future the structure of the project may change. I do hope to have Indian participation as soon as possible," he said.

Mottaki said the issue was discussed during his interactions with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and external affairs minister S M Krishna yesterday.

“During our negotiations, there were some questions and concerns and they needed some more consideration on this project," he said.

Mottaki said there was a desire on the part of India to go for this project and “definitely it will be a reality."

He said through the completion of the IPI project, the three countries could present a “positive picture" of regional cooperation among themselves.

The 2,775 km-long pipeline was conceived nearly 20 years ago to deliver natural gas from Iran to Pakistan and India.

However, India has serious differences with Iran and Pakistan over the security of the project, pricing of gas and the delivery point in the country.

China too had expressed interest to join the proposed pipeline project.

Earlier delivering a speech, Mottaki pitched for creation of a unified Asian framework for better coordination among countries on strategic issues.

He said Asia lacked a framework for increasing cooperation within the continent and it had several sub-regional arrangements like the Asean and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.

He noted that Europe spoke in one voice through the European Union while Africa also had a similar system.

Mottaki said that a pan-Asian framework was necessary as it was this continent that was driving economic growth when the world was facing a financial slowdown.