India and Pakistan Form Working Group for Pipeline

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Today, Pakistan and India formed a working group led by the oil ministry secretaries of both countries to begin work on a $4 billion natural gas pipeline from India to Iran through Pakistan.

Mani Shankar Aiyar, India’s Petroleum Minister, began a visit to Pakistan Saturday to discuss the pipeline with leaders of the country. He is scheduled to leave tomorrow.

India and Pakistan Form Working Group for Pipeline

A meeting held yesterday was the first time India and Pakistan have ever engaged in discussions about matters in the energy sector.

Aiyar is optimisitic about the pipeline. “I am now confident we will be able to get the project off the ground in a significant sense by the beginning of the new year,” he said. “Instead of discussing what we need to do, we will start doing what we need to do.”

Amanullah Jadoon, Pakistan’s Oil Minister told ISN Security Watch, “We welcome India in the project and sincerely hope that the project would be seen as the most credible CBM [confidence-building measure] between the two countries.”

According to ISN Security Watch, the working group’s first meeting will take place as soon as this month or early next month. India and Pakistan will hold six expert-level meetings and three ministerial-level meetings within the next six months.

The United States has expressed concern about the pipeline. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that New Delhi should explore other ways to meet its energy needs.

“We will not come under the pressure of any country,” said Aiyar in response.

The natural gas pipeline project is estimated to cost somewhere in the ballpark of 4 billion US dollars. As India and Pakistan hold their talks, trade of Indian petroleum goods is also expected to be opened up across the border.

Chris is a staff writer for WebProNews. Visit WebProNews for the latest ebusiness news.

India and Pakistan Form Working Group for Pipeline
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