Iran concerned about pipeline security
* Pakistan and Iran agree on trilateral talks involving India
By Khalid Mustafa
ISLAMABAD: Tehran on Wednesday raised concerns over the security of the proposed US$ four billion Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline that would pass through Pakistani territory on its way India.
Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh held the gas pipeline’s first round of talks with Federal Petroleum and Natural Resources Minister Ammanulla Khan Jadoon. A senior official, who attended the meeting, told Daily Times that Iran was concerned about the security of a major part of the pipeline to be laid down in Pakistan. He said that Jadoon assured the Iranian minister about security arrangements, saying, “It is Pakistan’s concern and Tehran should not get unduly worried about it.” Both sides will also talk on various issues related to the gas pipeline today (Thursday).
Asking not to be named, the official said that both sides did not discuss Washington’s concerns over the project during the talks. After the meeting, both countries’ ministers told Daily Times that they decided to hold trilateral talks at the ministerial and secretary level among the three stakeholders (Iran, Pakistan and India) instead of bilateral talks on the mega project.
Earlier, it was decided that the three countries would hold talks on the gas pipeline bilaterally and after that it would be held trilaterally, but during Wednesday’s meeting, it was decided that issues would be solved at a faster pace through trilateral talks.
Jadoon said a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in this regard would be signed between the two countries today (Thursday). Asked if Pakistan had discussed the price of gas with Iran, the minister said, “It is too early to discuss such issues.”
Petroleum and Natural Resources secretary Ahmad Waqar said that nothing was finalised in the talks and both sides would be able to reach a result after the talks at ministerial level. He said that both sides would discuss the pipeline’s laying down, transmission cost, security and transit fee today.
On his arrival here, the Iranian oil minister said, “I am hopeful that a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) will be signed during the talks here, which will determine the major topics regarding the import of gas.” He said he would discuss the import of gas for Pakistan’s domestic consumption and the Iran-India gas pipeline project, adding that he hoped improving relations between Pakistan and India and the settlement of political issues would hole speed up work on the project.