Washington, Delhi want continued efforts at laying four-nation pipeline

The U.S. has lauded and backed the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline but made no mention of the Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) ‘peace' pipeline, which, according to WikiLeaks cables, has been stalled under American pressure though it will fulfil the same objectives as the four-nation project.

At a spin-off meeting during Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's strategic dialogue with External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna here on Tuesday, India and the U.S. touched on the TAPI pipeline during discussions on energy security. At a meeting of the Energy Dialogue Steering Committee, one of the several Indo-U.S. panels handling specialised subjects, both sides reiterated the need for continued diplomatic efforts at laying the TAPI pipeline, “both for improved energy security in the subcontinent and the relatively clean energy natural gas that it would provide.”

Same benefits

But the IPI pipeline, which would also provide energy security as well as a cleaner fossil fuel alternative, was not mentioned. After waiting for more than two years for New Delhi to come on board, Tehran and Islamabad have announced the start of work on the Iran-Pakistan stretch by year-end. Pakistan's Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Asim Hussain has been quoted as saying that 1,092 km of the pipeline on the Iranian side is already in place, and gas should start flowing after three years. Both countries have said India is welcome to join the project when it makes up its mind.

The WikiLeaks cables reveal how the U.S. looked askance at a brief stopover by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad here in 2008, with the then U.S. Ambassador, David Mulford, having told National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon that “Americans, particularly members of Congress, will view [Mr.] Ahmadinejad's visit as India providing a platform for an enemy of the U.S.”

Mr. Menon responded, asking the U.S. not to tell India what it should do, especially in public. Iran presented a global problem, and the U.S. and India differed on how to fix the situation because of geography, he said, according to the U.S. diplomatic cables accessed by the WikiLeaks.