Atul Aneja

DUBAI: Iran and Pakistan have finalised an agreement to transfer gas along a cross-border pipeline, Iranian media reports say.

According to Iran’s Press TV, officials from Pakistan and Iran have agreed on the details of the project. “The two countries are now scheduled to sign the final deal by November,” it added. MukhtarAhmed, a senior adviser to Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz led the Pakistani delegation to the talks.

Iran’s Fars News Agency quoted Mr. Ahmed as saying that the gas pipeline project was viable even without India’s participation in it.

“The economics of the project will improve with Indian participation but ... the project is economically viable as a bilateral project also,” Mr. Ahmed observed.

The project, in its present state, envisages the construction of a 2,600-km-long pipeline that would bring gas from Iran’s giant South Pars field to Pakistan and India. Mr. Ahmed pointed out that the gas sales and purchase agreement were the focus of talks in Iran. Besides, the two sides had agreed on a “price review clause” — an issue that had been pending.

India did not participate in the latest round of official talks in Tehran, citing differences with Pakistan over transit fees. In Tehran, Mr. Ahmed acknowledged that more discussions were needed with India to iron out differences on the gas transportation issue.

Iran’s special representative to the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline, Hojjatollah Ghanimifard said that, so far, there was no change in India’s position on participation in the project. “So far, the information formally we have from the authorities of India is that they are willing to join us.”