Resolve IPI pipeline transit fee issue: Pak to India

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Islamabad, Oct 23: In a bid to break the deadlock over the transit fee issue regarding the 7.4-billion-dollar Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline project, Islamabad has invited New Delhi for talks in November.

Sources said that Pakistani Petroleum Secretary Farrakh Qayyum sent a letter on October 18 to his Indian counterpart, MS Srinivasan, inviting him for talks sometime between November 1-3 or November 12-14 in Islamabad.

India has not yet responded to the invitation, the Daily Times quoted the sources, as saying.

Both sides have reached some understanding on the transportation tariff payable to Islamabad for transportation of natural gas through the 1,035-km pipeline segment in Pakistan, but they are yet to arrive at an agreement on the fee issue.

Last month, India refused to attend a trilateral meeting held in Tehran, saying it wanted to first resolve the issue of transit fee with Pakistan. This resulted in speculations that India had pulled out of the project. Later, Iran dismissed it, saying New Delhi was waiting for the restoration of political stability in Pakistan.

Iran"s Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad-Ali Hosseini said New Delhi had declared that expert delegations of the two countries would discuss the gas transit fee.

While proposing a ten-yearly revision, Pakistan told Iran that the agreement should be signed not later than December this year. The Iranian side promised to respond to the offer by the first week of next month, and agreed that the early signing of the agreement would be in the larger interests of both sides.

Under the trilateral contract, Iran will export 60 million cubic meters of gas to Pakistan and India each per day.

ANI>

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