New Delhi has announced its readiness to hold talks with both Islamabad and Tehran on putting back on the rails the $8-billion Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project provided both nations are ready to address its security concerns.
Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Murli Deora, who is attending a two-day, 12th International Energy Forum meeting which began here on Tuesday, told journalists: “I am ready to hold talks with both Iran and Pakistan representatives here in Cancun. We need certain assurances on supply of gas and also on the point of delivery from Iran. We have proposed trilateral talks in Tehran in May and are now waiting for a response from Iran. We are going to approach the issue with an open mind. We are for building of a pipeline but India's concerns have to be addressed for the long-term viability of the project.”
India also had concerns over pricing of the gas from Iran and these issues needed to be sorted out first. “We are under pressure from no country or individual not to proceed with the project,” the Minister said in response to a question whether India was under U.S. pressure.
Surge in militancy
India's security concern arises from the fact that the pipeline will pass through the volatile Balochistan region. The surge in militancy in Pakistan has fuelled India's security apprehensions over the project. Senior officials in the government have indicated that the project will be discussed at the next meeting of the India-Iran joint working group (JWG).
The pipeline will carry 750 million cubic feet of natural gas from Iran's vast resources to Pakistan by mid-2015.