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Last Updated: Thursday, 18 November, 2004, 14:47 GMT
India pushes for pipeline talks
Pakistan Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz
Pakistan Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz: "Dialogue to start"
India says it hopes to discuss a proposed natural gas pipeline from Iran with Pakistan's Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz when he visits New Delhi next week

The multibillion-dollar project, which would provide India with much-needed natural gas, would have to pass through Pakistani territory.

India's oil minister Mani Shankar Aiyar said he had written to his Pakistani counterpart, suggesting direct talks.

Mr Aziz has said he expected progress on the issue in the next 12 months.

"I am not saying the pipeline will be installed overnight, but the dialogue will start, at least," he told Pakistan's Daily Times newspaper.

Direct negotiations

Mr Aiyar said he would meet with Mr Aziz during the prime minister's trip to New Delhi.

"What is different is that we are going to talk to each other instead of at each other through somebody else," Mr Aiyar said.

A 2,600km (1620-mile) landline would cost about $3.5bn and the supplies would be a huge boost for energy-starved India.

India is also seeking talks with Bangladesh over another pipeline to transport gas from Burma.

Bangladesh has said it is ready "in principle" to allow the proposed pipeline to run across its territory, provided India agreed to certain conditions.


SEE ALSO:
India and Iran in gas partnership
03 Nov 04 |  Business
Iran urges India to back pipeline
27 Jan 03 |  South Asia
Bangladesh to consider gas pipeline
16 Jul 02 |  South Asia


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