'Pipeline may not remain a pipe dream'

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New Delhi, Apr 30: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad today said the petroleum ministers of India, Pakistan and his country would complete within next 45 days the talks on technical aspects of the multi-billion gas pipeline project to enable the three countries to sign the ''historic'' agreement.

''It is not only the gas pipeline...but a pipeline of peace and brotherhood that will run through the three countries,'' he told a news conference here at the end of his brief stopover after his visit to Sri Lanka and Pakistan. Mr Ahmedinejad said the IPI (Iran-Pakistan-India) gas pipeline project had social, political and economic considerations for the three countries. He expressed the hope that India, Pakistan and Iran would sign the agreement once the petroleum ministers of the three countries submit their reports to their respective governments within next 45 days.

''The gas pipeline project will definitely be finalised in the near future. We are very positive about it.'' On China's inclusion in the project, the Iranian President said the proposal came from Pakistan. ''It is a good proposal and we should consider all aspects of it before taking any decision,'' he added.

Pakistan had proposed for allowing the gas pipeline pass through its territory to China along the historic Karakoram Highway to help Beijing meet its growing industrial needs.

Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi had earlier said that his government was studying participation in the project.

Asked if there was a pressure on India from the US to scrap the project, the Iranian President said the Americans do not want to see other nations progressing and developing.

''They (US) have no affect on our ties (with India). Both India and Iran will continue to work towards deepening their bilateral and historical relations,'' he added.

This was Mr Ahmedinejad's first visit to India since assuming presidency in 2005.

Tehran has been asking India and Pakistan to mutually resolve issues of transit fee and transportation tariff to formally kick-start the IPI project.

Indian and Pakistani petroleum ministers had earlier said in Islamabad that they had reached an understanding on fundamentals of the agreement aimed at settling the unresolved issues.


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