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LNG deal with Iran on the cards: India's Saran

New Delhi, Dec 8, IRNA-Indian Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran, expressing surprise at the remarks of a senior United States official to the effect that India had "assured" Washington that its energy deals with Iran were only "hypothetical" and "years away," said his government had not provided any such assurances.

"Although I had not seen the text of the speech," he said, "such an assurance had not been conveyed."

"I do not know who it is who is supposed to have assured Washington because it certainly was not us," the foreign secretary said as reported by the leading English daily `Hindu' today.

"On the contrary, there is an LNG deal that is very much on the cards, though the Iranians have not signed the final documents," he added.

"Moreover, we have told the US that Iran, too, is our strategic partner, that apart from historic ties, there is also the energy relationship."

At a press conference during his return from Moscow, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh noted that Russia had shown interest in the proposed Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline and said this matter "will be considered along with all other issues that are relevant." Saran said the pipeline would go through if it was found to be financially viable.

"Political considerations will not matter. The economics of the project have to justify it."

In a speech at Johns Hopkins University on December 1, Nicholas Burns, US undersecretary of state for political affairs, said, "The Indians have assured us there is no plan on the table that is ready for decision by the Iranian and Indian government, that any plans, any discussions, have been hypothetical and are years away." Burns is the Bush administration's pointman on Iran and its chief interlocutor with India.

... Payvand News - 12/8/05 ... --

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