India seeks more 'comforts' on IPI

Written by Agencies | New Delhi, April 30: | Updated: Apr 30 2008, 21:29pm hrs
India has sought more 'comforts' from Iran for safe passage of natural gas through Pakistan before a pact on the 7.4 billion dollar trination pipeline can be signed.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's six hour visit yesterday broke India's 8-month non-participation in IPI talks and there is likelihood of swift movements to conclude negotiations.

"We had a very good meeting. The Prime Minister Manmohan Singh conveyed India's keenness to join the project," Petroleum Minister Murli Deora said.

Declining to divulge details, he said oil ministers of the three nations might meet soon to resolve all outstanding issues. "It may happen within the 45-day timeframe suggested by Ahmadinejad."

Sources said New Delhi wanted Iran to handover custody of gas at the India-Pakistan border and not at Iran-Pakistan border as had been suggested by Tehran, to cut transit risk through Pakistan.

It also opposed price revision clause that Iran is seeking to insert in the Gas Sales Agreement.

Besides, New Delhi pressed Iran to dedicate a particular gas field like South Pars for Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline and sought third party certification of its reserves.

It sought to know alternate supply sources in event of depletion of reserves.

Iranian President made no commitments on the issues raised by New Delhi and left it on his oil minister to resolve it with his Indian counterpart, sources said.

India has been boycotting IPI pipeline talks since August 2007 over transit fee demanded by Pakistan for passage of gas through that country.

Differences between the two nations were narrowed at meeting of oil ministers of India and Pakistan in Islamabad last week but there is no agreement as yet.