Krishna to take up pipeline issue during Iran visit

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Onboard Special Aircraft, May 13 (ANI): External Affairs Minister S M Krishna has said that he would take up the seven billion dollar Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project during his Iran-visit during the G-15 summit.

"The gas pipeline between India, Pakistan, Iran and ... that is part of the kind of energy security that we are looking forward to and we hope that we will be able to clinch the issue," said Krishna on his return journey to New Delhi after a three-day visit to Kazakhstan.

Iran, Pakistan and India have discussed the pipeline for years. They have agreed in principle on a pricing formula, but India dropped out of talks in mid-2007, saying that it first wanted to resolve issues with Pakistan such as transit fees.

Krishna said that he hopes there would be earnestness from all the partners to remove the roadblocks in this agreement.

"The only two issues which arise in this context and which is (are) delaying the negotiations is one, the cost, the price and second one is the security. Unless these two are effectively resolved, I don't think that would make any progress. I hope that there is going to be earnestness on all sides to complete the negotiations," said Krishna.

The 7.6 billion dollar project has been dubbed the "Pipeline for Peace and Progress" because of the mutual benefits it will bring to India and Pakistan.

The pipeline could initially transport 60 million cubic meters of gas (2.2 billion cubic feet) daily. The capacity would later rise to 150 million cubic meters.

Iran and Pakistan reportedly signed their agreement in May 2009 during a visit by Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari to Tehran, without giving details on its content or making clear whether there were still issues outstanding.

Krishna also said that during the visit to Teheran he would clarify New Delhi's position that voted against Iran's nuclear programme last year at the International Atomic energy Agency (IAEA) summit.

"Iran is not too pleased with our vote but we have explained our position and I hope that Iran would have understood our position and appreciated our position. Well in a relationship between countries, there could be certain divergence of views that should not mar the overall relationship of friendship and cordiality and goodwill between our two countries," added Krishna.

He, however, supported Iran's eagerness to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

"We respect Iran's eagerness to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes just like we did when we started that," said Krishna. By Ravi Shankar (ANI)

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