Page last updated at 06:35 GMT, Monday, 23 June 2008 07:35 UK

Pipeline deal 'soon', says India

The pipeline is crucial for India's energy supplies

India will soon sign an agreement with Iran and Pakistan to construct a multi-billion dollar gas pipeline, its petroleum minister has said.

Murli Deora said some "minor problems" over the pipeline had been sorted out.

The pipeline will transport gas from Iran to India through Pakistan, and is seen as crucial to Indian energy needs. Analysts say the pipeline could contribute to regional security as Iran, Pakistan and India would depend on each other more.

A deal has been stalled by disputes over transit fees and security issues.

Mr Deora, who attended a meeting of leading oil exporting countries in Saudi Arabia, told an Indian news channel that the agreement to construct the pipeline would be signed "very soon".

"There were... some issues with Pakistan that have been taken care of," he said.

In April, Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, had told the Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, that all obstacles holding up the long-delayed project would be resolved within 45 days.

The 2,600-km (1,620-mile) pipeline would initially transport 60 million cubic metres of gas (2.2bn cubic feet) a day.

The Indian government has said the project is feasible, but needs to be financially viable with assured supplies.

India has boycotted trilateral meetings since mid-2007, saying it wants to resolve the issues of transit fees and transportation tariffs with its long-standing regional rival Pakistan first.

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