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13:05 | 2009-08-19


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India Invites Mottaki for Talks on Bilateral Ties

TEHRAN (FNA)- India has invited the Iranian foreign minister to New Delhi for talks on bolstering bilateral relations, media reports said on Wednesday.

The Times of Indian quoted unknown sources as saying that the visit by Manouchehr Mottaki is slated to take place as early as September.

The reports said that the meeting will also pave the way for a meeting between Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad later this year in Iran.

Meantime, sources were quoted by the news agency as saying that New Delhi is mulling over sending a delegation to Tehran next month in a bid to discuss the likelihood of India joining the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline (formerly known as the Peace Pipeline) despite New Delhi's concerns over the pipeline's security and pricing formula.

The 2700-kilometer long pipeline was to supply gas for Pakistan and India which are suffering a lack of energy sources, but India has evaded talks. Last year Iran and Pakistan then declared they would finalize the agreement bilaterally if India continued to be absent in meetings.

In a major breakthrough on March 20, the Pakistani government approved Iran's proposed pricing formula for gas supplies to the South Asian nation. Later in May, Iranian and Pakistani officials exchanged documents of Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline deal in Istanbul, Turkey.

Iran and Pakistan have also included an article within their agreement that allows India to join the project at an appropriate time.

The pipeline too will feature in the discussions with the foreign minister but India is not going to make any commitment at this stage, said an official.

He added that, among other things, one crucial condition for India to join the project would be making the delivery point of gas as close to the India-Pakistan border as possible.

The agency further quoted the sources as saying that Tehran has agreed to this and has also shown willingness to add relevant clauses in the agreement which would allow it to stall supply altogether in case Pakistan did anything to disrupt supply to India.