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Jun 06, 2005, 03.54 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

Aiyar meets Pak PM on Iran gas pipeline

The Petroleum Minister is to discuss at length the issues of the Iran gas pipeline and the export of surplus diesel from India. The Pakistani government had earlier slapped a ban on Indian diesel offered by Indian Oil Corporation at a discount. The meeting is expected to be held tomorrow.

 

Petroleum Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar met Pakistan Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz briefly this morning to discuss the Iran gas pipeline project. He was accompanied by Petroleum Secretary, S C Tripathi and Indian High Commissioner in Pakistan, Shiv Shankar Menon. Details of the meeting however, are to be known soon. The major chunk of the discussion is expected to be held sometime tomorrow after the budget presentation in the Pakistani Assembly, which is scheduled to take place later this evening.

 

The meeting held this morning was based on some developments that took place yesterday. Incidentally, these are the first direct talks between India and Pakistan on the Iran gas pipeline project. India though, regards the issue as two sets of bilateral talks, those between Iran and Pakistan and Iran and India, rather than simple tripartite talks.

 

However, India is unlikely to commit to major investment in the project. It is gunning for Pakistan to invest the $4 billion in the 2700 km pipeline passing through the country. This, according to certain sections in Delhi, can be held as a safe guard against Pakistan disrupting supplies at any time in the future.

 

Pakistan has asked India how much gas it is committed to buy before Pakistan invests in pipeline projects. The talks, report CNBC-TV18, are all preliminary and tentative.

 

In tomorrow’s meeting, Aiyar is expected to request the Pakistan government to lift the ban on export of Indian diesel. In March this year, IOC had offered to supply 325 thousand tonnes of diesel to Pakistan in a non-binding offer. The state-owned oil giant had also offered to sell it at a discount to match the price of 4.5 million tons of diesel Pakistan gets from Kuwait. The offer follows a request from Pakistan State Oil Corporation in December last year for 2.5 million tonnes of diesel for its depots at Karachi, Lahore and Jhelum. IOC had arranged for the despatch from terminals at Jallandhar and Jamnagar.

 

Aiyar will also seek Pakistani approval for export of petrochemicals including LAB, an ingredient used in detergents and PTA, a plastic resin. Pakistan's economy has delivered a growth of 8.4% last year. The growth target for this year has been fixed at 7%.

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