Iran gas pipeline to bypass Pakistan-India

NEW DELHI India will bypass Pakistan as it pursues a multi-billion-dollar gas pipeline project with Iran, Petroleum Minister Ram Naik said.

By (AFP)

Published: Fri 21 Feb 2003, 5:03 AM

Last updated: Wed 1 Apr 2015, 8:24 PM

Naik said the pipeline from Iran to India would bypass their mutual neighbour Pakistan by going through the sea. He said he would travel to Iran within three months to discuss the deal.

“We have not spoken to Pakistan on this and we are not going to talk to them," Naik told Parliament.

“We have to buy from Iran; there is no proposal to get it overland. It can come through the sea route," he said.

Iranian President Mohammad Khatami pressed for progress on the pipeline deal during a visit to New Delhi last month. India imports most of the oil and gas required for its billion-plus population.

Discussions on the pipeline estimated to cost $3.5 billion began in 1994, but progress has been slow due to tensions between India and Pakistan and the project's high price tag.

India has fought three wars with Pakistan and is worried its arch-enemy may use the pipeline as a political tool, shutting off supply during the neighbours' frequent crises.

Indian officials also say the pipeline would be prone to attack in Pakistan. A key gas pipeline ensuring domestic supply in Pakistan has been attacked several times this year alone, either through sabotage or stray rockets from warring tribesmen.

Naik declined to set a timeline for the pipeline's completion, saying estimates were still being drafted in collaboration with Iranian officials.

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