Pakistan, India discuss gas pipeline project

New Delhi, February 15:

Pakistani minister of petroleum and mineral resources Amanullah Khan Jadoon will be meeting Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh during three-day long visit beginning tomorrow to carry forward talks on plans to import gas from Iran as also Turkmenistan.

The visit would mark the first ministerial interaction from overseas of petroleum minister Murli Deora since taking charge last month. Jadoon last visited India in November 2004 as part of a delegation led by Pakistani prime minister Shaukat Aziz. Subsequently in June 2005 former petroleum minister Mani Shankar Aiyar, during a visit to Pakistan, extended another invitation that did not materialise in the aftermath of the earthquake in October in Pakistan.

“The Pakistan minister would be holding officials talks with Deora on Friday and is expected to call on the prime minister on Saturday prior to a visit to Agra and Ajmer Sharif,” an official source said. Accompanied by his wife and a high-level delegation that is expected to include officials from the petroleum and foreign affairs ministry, Jadoon will be coming to New Delhi after the ninth steering committee meeting of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan (TAP) project.

India is also attending the three-day long meeting at Turkmenistan capital Asghabat as observer with minister of state for petroleum leading the official delegation. While talks on the multi-bullion dollar Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline project has been making some progress notwithstanding the pressure from the US to abandon it, India is keen to join Pakistan to source additional gas supplies from Central Asia th-rough the proposed TAP project.

At the official level talks, Jadoon will be discussing the progress on IPI project proposal with technical discussions having entered the trilateral phase. The next phase after arriving at a consensus on the technical specifications of the pipeline would be the official level trilateral meeting.