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Pakistani, Indian ministers to discuss Iran gasline: report

Islamabad, Oct 28, IRNA -- Petroleum ministers of Pakistan and India are expected to meet in Islamabad early next month to discuss the possibility of laying a multi-billion-dollar trans-Pakistan gas pipeline, that will carry gas from Iran, a local press report said on Thursday.

This will be the first time the oil ministers of the two countries will be having direct consultations on the question of laying the two-billion-dollar pipeline, Dawn newspaper reported.

It said that Pakistan's petroleum minister has been directed to immediately convene a high-level meeting, involving representatives of the ministries of foreign affairs and interior, security agencies and other relevant government departments, to do groundwork for the meeting.

The possibility of a gas pipeline being laid from Iran via Pakistan to India gained momentum after a meeting between President Pervez Musharraf and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New York on Sept 24 on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

Both the leaders had felt that such a project would contribute to the welfare and prosperity of the people of both the countries, said a statement read at the end of the meeting.

Pakistan is expected to earn over dlrs 600 million annually as transit fee besides required gas quantities. And India would be the major beneficiary as gas supply would meet its rising fuel demand while Iran would be able to sell reasonable gas quantities on a permanent basis for decades.

Foreign ministers of Pakistan and India had discussed aspects of the pipeline in New Delhi on Sept 6 and had agreed that the oil and gas ministers should meet to discuss the 'multifarious dimensions' of the issue.

Pakistan has conveyed its willingness to address any security concerns of India.

"The Musharraf-Manmohan meeting triggered a series of consultations in the region involving Iran, Turkmenistan, Russia, Qatar, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan besides a number of other parties interested in providing financing, technical assistance or engineering expertise for the project," the daily suggested.

The Australian BHP, one of the top oil, gas and mineral exploration companies of the world, is also in intense consultations with relevant quarters in Tehran, Islamabad and New Delhi. BHP has conducted studies on the gas import plans in the region.

... Payvand News - 10/28/04 ... --

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