Pranab Mukherjee to leave for Iran today

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New Delhi, Oct 31 : External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee will begin his three-day visit to Iran from today to discuss ways to push the proposed trilateral gas pipeline project.

During his visit, Mukherjee will attend the Joint Commission meeting during which the two sides are expected to discuss various other initiatives to enhance their ties.

The two sides will also hold talks on several issues, including trade and business to enhance the bilateral ties.

Besides meeting President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Mukherjee will also hold talks with his counterpart Manouchehr Mottaki.

The two sides are expected to discuss a way forward in the proposed 7.4 billion dollar Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline which is failing to take off due to differences over pricing and concerns over security.

India has been boycotting the talks over the pipeline project since August 2007 over transit fee demanded by Pakistan for passage of gas through that country.

On April 30, Ahmedinejad met Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and had claimed that the two sides had decided to address the issue in 45 days.

In June, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who met Oil Minister Murli Deora said that the two sides have resolved all bilateral issues.

However, there has been no progress.

Besides differing on transit fee issue, India also has apprehensions about security of the pipeline as it will pass through restive parts of Pakistan.

Tehran feels that New Delhi had delayed the project because of the Indo-US nuclear deal and is hoping that the pipeline initiative will see forward movement since the atomic agreement has been completed.

ANI

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