Pakistan and Iran on Friday concluded their first round of talks on the over $7 billion Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline project with a note of satisfaction and a pledge to make substantial progress on the matter. The Pakistan side at the three-day talks is led by Petroleum Secretary Ahmed Waqar while Deputy Oil Minister of Iran Mohammad-Hadi Nejad-Hosseinian is leading Iran's eight-member delegation. Both sides will discuss technical issues relating to the project, which has an estimated cost of over $7 billion.
Talking to newsmen, the leader of the Pakistan delegation, Ahmed Waqar, said a trilateral meeting of Iran, Pakistan and India on the project is to be held on the third week of May and reports about a withdrawal of India are mere speculation. He said the two sides discussed technical aspects of the project, and added that decisions regarding the project will be taken in the national interests and that the framework agreement will be finalized by June. He said structure, pricing formula and gas financial issues are also main subjects of the Islamabad talks. To a question, he said the Pakistani leadership has stated on a number of occasions that the country would approach the project keeping in view its national interests.
The leader of the Iranian delegation, Mohammad-Hadi Nejad-Hosseinian, said that with oil prices soaring the project is very import for future economic development of Pakistan and India. He said Iran had not received any indication from India that it will quit the project. He said Pakistan had sent a draft gas pricing formula to Iran based on its domestic gas pricing mechanism and the Iranian delegation would discuss the same with Pakistani officials.
"I am hopeful that Iran, Pakistan and India will finalize all aspects of the project in two months," Iran's deputy oil minister said.
Hosseinian said Iran is interested in an early implementation of the multi-billion-dollar project and said Pakistan and Iran will try to finalize many matters in the Islamabad talks. He said Iran is determined to finalize all technical aspects of the project within the next two months.
The 2,670-km pipeline will have 1,115km of its total length in Iran, 705km in Pakistan and 850km in India.