An Indo-Pak Joint Working Group will start technical negotiations this month on the 7.2-billion-dollar gas pipeline from Iran to India via Pakistan for which a Tripartite Framework Agreement is likely to be finalized in January, a senior Pakistani official said.
"Pakistan and India will start technical negotiations at the level of Joint Working Group on the (tri-nation) gas pipeline sometime in the third week of the current month," an anonymous government official was quoted as saying by Pakistani daily 'The News'.
The JWG meeting will discuss gas reserve certification and allocation, gas quantity and build-up, gas quality, system configuration and project structure. Other matters of pipeline routing, delivery points, transportation tariff, transit fee, capital and operation costs and pipeline security will also be brought under discussion, the official said.
This will be the second meeting at the level of Joint Working Group as the first meeting was held in Islamabad on September 8-9, 2005. The official said Pakistan and Iran have recently held talks on the gas pipeline at JWG level and discussed the quality and quantity of gas, routes and diameter of the gas pipeline. He said a tripartite framework agreement was likely to be finalized by next January.
Though the project is facing some difficulty with the U.S. concerns over Tehran's nuclear program, on the technical level, Indian and Pakistani officials believe that the project could be completed by 2010 if everything went well.