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Indian oil minister in Pakistan for Iran gasline talks

Islamabad, June 4, IRNA-India's Petroleum Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar, who arrived here on Saturday for talks with Pakistani officials on the multi-billion Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline, said that Pakistan has assured to address to the Indian concerns about the project security.

"I will discuss the feasibility and technical aspects of the project," Aiyar told reporters after he crossed into Pakistani territory at Wahga border.

"We will not come under the pressure of no country and a decision will be made in the interest of our people," the Indian minister said when his attention was drawn to US opposition to the project.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had opposed the 4.5 billion Iran-Pakistan-India gas project during her recent visit to the region, asking Pakistan and India to go for alternate energy options.

Mr Aiyar described security of the 2600-km long pipeline as very important and said Pakistan has assured to address to the Indian concerns.

He said that during his meeting with Pakistan Commerce Minister Hamayun Khan, he will request to remove import of diesel and petrol from the negative list.

"We are ready to provide oil to Pakistan on cheaper rate," he said.

The Indian oil minister will arrive in Islamabad on Sunday and will meet his Pakistani counterpart Amanullah Khan Jadoon on the same day, according to an official of the Petroleum Ministry.

The two sides will hold formal talks on Monday, the official said.

Mr Aiyar is likely to call on President General Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz on Tuesday, he said.

Pakistan is also discussing two other gasline options - Turkmenistan via Afghanistan and the other from Qatar.

Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said last month Pakistan will have to make decision about any one of the three projects by end year.

... Payvand News - 6/4/05 ... --

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