Pakistan and India are close to an agreement on the price of natural gas that will pass through a proposed $7.4 billion pipeline linked with Iran, according to one of the officials involved in the talks.
Hojatollah Ghanimifard, Iran's negotiator, said he hoped ''all problems would be settled'' by June 30, the latest deadline set by Iran to finalize the contract, Shana, the press agency for Iran's oil ministry, said in a statement late.
Negotiators from Iran, Pakistan and India held a new round of talks over the so-called ''Peace Pipeline''. The discussions will last four days.
The pipeline has been in the planning stage for more than a decade. The three countries haven't yet said how it would be funded. The U.S. wants India and Pakistan to shun the project to isolate Iran. The South Asian neighbors, which have a combined population of over 1 billion people, have so far resisted U.S. pressure because they need the pipeline to meet energy shortages.
In addition to the ''Peace Pipeline'', Iran also wants to ship more gas to Europe through Turkey via the planned Nabucco pipeline. A group led by Vienna-based OMV AG plans to spend 4.6 billion euros ($6.3 billion) on building the pipeline, which would link western Europe to the Caspian Sea and possibly Iran and Iraq.