India, Pakistan Near Deal on Gas Pipeline

Posted January 25th, 2012 at 12:15 pm (UTC-5)
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Indian and Pakistani officials say they have come closer to an agreement on a pipeline that would transport natural gas from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan.

Indian Oil Minister S. Jaipal Reddy said Wednesday that both sides have agreed to settle the issue of a transit fee for the gas as soon as possible. He made the comments after meeting with Pakistan's Petroleum Minister Asim Hussain in New Delhi.

The so-called TAPI pipeline would run 1,700 kilometers from Turkmenistan's natural gas fields through southern Afghanistan. The $7.6 billion proposed pipeline would extend into Pakistan, before ending in India. It would transport 30 billion cubic meters of gas a year.

The United States has urged the South Asian nations to agree on the TAPI pipeline and abandon plans to enter into a natural gas deal with Iran.

During talks Wednesday, Reddy said India has also offered to export gasoline, diesel fuel and other petroleum and petrochemical products to Pakistan. He said Indian refineries may look into building pipelines for those products if Pakistan provides long-term purchase guarantees.

The longtime rival nations are taking steps to strengthen economic ties as they look to normalize relations.