New Delhi, June 29, IRNA - Iran has invited India's Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh and Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf to Tehran for signing a USD 7.4 billion tri-nation deal on natural gas, supply of which could start from 2011.
The meeting may take place by July end or August, Special Representative of Iranian Petroleum Minister H. Ghanimi Fard told reporters after meeting with Indian Petroleum Minister Murli Deora in New Delhi.
India's Petroleum Minister will meet his Pakistani counterpart to finalise remaining bilateral issues before the heads of the three nations meet in Tehran for signing the deal.
Earlier, the Petroleum Secretaries of India and Pakistan held two rounds of talks to iron out their differences on the transportation charges and transit fees.
The Indian delegation was led by Petroleum Secretary M. S.
Srinivasan, Pakistani side was headed by his counterpart Ahmed Waqar.
The Iranian delegation was represented by Hajjatollah Ghanimifard, Special Envoy of Iranian Oil Minister.
The the three-day talks would be held in two phases, the first bilateral and the second trilateral.
The bilateral talks started between India and Pakistan during which Islamabad and New Delhi will exchange views on resolving their differences on the transit fees sought by Pakistan for the passage of the gas pipeline through its soil.
The two-day trilateral talks among Iran, Pakistan and India would be held on Thursday and Friday.
Indian Petroleum Minister Murli Deora, who has shown keenness in executing the (IPI) gas pipeline project and visited Islamic Republic of Iran recently, announced last week that a frame work agreement on project would be signed early July this year.
According to IRNA reports from New Delhi, speaking to the media persons on the sidelines of a program in New Delhi Murli Deora said:
"One round of bilateral talks was held on June 27 and two rounds of trilateral talks would be held on June 28 and 29th New Delhi." He said: "We should reach a conclusion on this deal by July.
It is expected that the oil ministers of the three nations will meet by the end of July of current year to sign a frame work agreement on the 'Peace' pipeline estimated at $7.4 billion.
It is said that the 2,600 kms IPI gas pipeline would carry 60 million cubic meters a day at the initial stage.
According to IRNA report from Srinagar, Indian Petroleum Minister had said that Indian prime minister believes that this gas pipeline from Iran to Pakistan and onward to India will help promote peace and development in the region.
Speaking to the media persons in Srinagar, capital of Jammu & Kashmir, Deora added: "Progress on the IPI gas pipeline still continues and in near future we would be able to launch the project." Meanwhile, he did not announce a timetable for the launch of the $7-8 billion project.
Murli Deora said, "Indian petroleum secretary visited Tehran two weeks ago and Iranian officials would be in India for the talks exactly one month after the visit of the Indian official to Tehran." On the progress achieved so far on the IPI gas pipeline, he said:
"Negotiations with Iran and Pakistan on the price of the gas and extension of the pipeline to India are still going on."
"The main issues on the IPI gas pipeline have been resolved so far and those remaining such as customs tariff and transit fees would be resolved in coming future," he added.
The Indian minister said that these issues were discussed during the recent visit of the Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz to India.
India and Pakistan have generally accepted the gas price offered by Iran but New Delhi is not willing to sign the framework agreement before it resolves its differences with Pakistan.
According to Indian media reports, Iran has sought $4.93 for every one million British Thermal Unit of the gas which does not include the transit fees and customs tariff.
Pakistan is demanding $0.70 to $0.75 per MBTU (Million British Thermal Unit) as customs tariff but India is willing to pay only $0.55.
Islamabad is also demanding $0.493 as transit fees for MBTU while New Delhi is ready to pay only $0.20 for the same.
The Indian oil secretary Srinivasan has said: "Iran has offered to deliver the gas at the Iran-Pakistan border and Tehran would be responsible for the security of the pipeline within Iran."
... Payvand News - 6/29/07 ... --