India, B’desh talk on pipeline project soon

New Delhi, August 21:

With no clear signal from the external affairs ministry on how to push the Myanmar-India gas pipeline via Bangladesh, petroleum minister Mani Shankar Aiyar is not keen on a visit to Dhaka soon, officials said. “The petroleum minister has an invitation from Bangladeshi foreign minister Morshed Khan to visit Dhaka on a goodwill mission next week,” a senior official in the petroleum ministry here said, “But he is not keen unless he receives a clear mandate from the external affairs ministry on how to move ahead with the talks on the $2 billion trans-border gas pipeline.”

“Coming soon after external affairs minister Natwar Singh’s visit to Bangladesh, the petroleum

minister’s goodwill visit would have been a valuable move. But there has to be some movement forward. It should not be mired in politics.” The petroleum ministry feels some trade issues that Dhaka wants to link to the project can be diplomatically tackled so that India can source its share of gas from the some offshore blocks in Myanmar. There are also some commercial considerations to be resolved, such as the transit fee and allowing it to pass through its territory, officials said.