US did not ask India to delay IPI project: Pranab

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New Delhi, Nov 28: External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee today denied that the US has asked India not to move forward with the planned pipeline project that would bring natural gas from Iran to India via Pakistan.

The Petroleum and Natural Gas Ministry has been negotiating the pipeline project with Iran and Pakistan, Mukherjee told Lok Sabha in a written reply.

"The sixth meeting of the tripartite Joint Working Group was held in Delhi on 28-29 June. Three meetings of the India-Pakistan Joint Working Group and five meetings of the India-Iran Special Joint Working Group have been held so far. Several key issues including pricing formula, transit fee and transportation tariff are under discussion," he said.

Earlier this month, Iranian Oil Minister Gholam Hossein Nozari had said that there was no deadline for India to join the pipeline service, and expressed the hope that New Delhi would not buckle under pressure from Washington to join the rival gas pipeline project from Turkmenistan.

Nozari's statement came soon after Iran and Pakistan finalised a contract for a multi-billion-dollar gas export deal that is schedule to be signed within a month.

The project, in its present state, envisages the construction of a 2,600-km-long pipeline that would bring gas from Iran's giant South Pars field to Pakistan and India.

India, which has not been able to resolve the issue of transit fee with Pakistan, has said that it would not participate in the trilateral talks till it is decided.

ANI

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