NEW DELHI: With China threatening to virtually replace India in the $7.4 billion Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) peace pipeline, Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Murli Deora will leave on a three-day crucial visit to Pakistan on Tuesday evening.
The visit is expected to provide a breakthrough in the long-stuck IPI pipeline issue and also to wrap up talks on the Asian Development Bank backed Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline.
Mr. Deora will hold talks on the stalled IPI pipeline with his Pakistani counterpart to sort out the transit fee issue that has held back an agreement for almost a year. “It was only after China expressed its interest in the IPI pipeline that India showed urgency for talks. India did not take part in three trilateral talks held during the last nine months without assigning any official reason. Mr. Deora had cancelled his visit to Islamabad in February this year at the last minute,” a senior official said.
Mr. Deora said the issue of “transportation fee” had been sorted out and now the focus would be the “transit fee” sought to be levied for gas transported from Iran to the India-Pakistan border.
A point of concern for the two countries would be a new clause being sought to be incorporated by Iran seeking revision of natural gas price every three years, which India and Pakistan have opposed.