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Musharraf: Iran gas line to be built even without India

Islamabad, Dec 12, IRNA-Pakistan has declared in categorical terms that even if India does not join the proposed gas pipeline from Iran to Pakistan it will be constructed.

President General Pervez Musharraf was talking to reporters at the Sindh Governor's House when he made the declaration.

India may continue talks with Afghanistan, Turkmenistan or Qatar, but it will have to talk to us, President Musharraf maintained.

He also made it clear that whether or not India joins the multi-billion project, the gas pipeline would be constructed.

The Pakistan-Iran Joint Working Group held its meeting last month in Tehran and both sides expressed satisfaction over the smooth forward movement of talks toward realization of the project, he added.

A senior official confirmed to IRNA that a delegation, probably led by either the oil minister or oil secretary, would leave for New Delhi within a fortnight to attend the next Pak-India Joint Working Group meeting.

However, he said that the foreign ministries of the two countries were still finalizing the date of the group's meeting.

The three countries have formed joint working groups to expedite finalization of the draft agreement.

Some media reports in the past year or so have suggested that India might decide not to join the project.

However, Indian Oil Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar has made it clear that the project was of great importance for India and that it would go for it.

The tri-nation project proposal surfaced way back in the mid-9190s.

However, no tangible progress has been made so far due to Pak-India tensions on the Kashmir issue.

After the start of a peace process to resolve Kashmir and other bilateral issues between Pakistan and India, things have, however, significantly improved.

Some media reports say the three countries could be signing a final agreement on the laying of the over 2,600-kilometer-long pipeline in June 2006.

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

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