Nirupama Subramanian

ISLAMABAD: Talks between India and Pakistan on the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline, which began here on Thursday were "positive." They covered several issues, including pricing and transit fees to Pakistan, officials said.

A 10-member delegation of Indian officials led by Petroleum Secretary M.S. Srinivasan took part in the talks, which will continue on Friday.

The Pakistani side was led by Petroleum and Natural Resources Secretary Ahmed Waqar, who told journalists after the first day of the talks that the two sides discussed gas pricing, transit fees that India will pay Pakistan for transporting the gas through its territory, and the possibility of a "joint declaration."

Iran attended the talks as an observer, but according to officials, will join the talks on the second day for a brief bilateral session.

Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said last week that the three countries were "close" to signing a pricing formula on the gas that will be supplied from Iran to Pakistan and India.

"We are very close to agreeing on a tariff," Mr. Aziz said, while inaugurating an international conference on the oil and gas industry. "We are at a very advanced stage and I think we are very optimistic."

Mr. Srinivasan is scheduled to call on the Pakistan Petroleum and Natural Resources Minister Amanullah Khan Jadoon on Friday.