Indian External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid has voiced New Delhi’s willingness to reenter negotiations over a project that would have transferred Iranian gas to India via Pakistan.
The project, which was initially referred to as the Iran - Pakistan - India(IPI) or Peace Pipeline, was inaugurated by Tehran and Islamabad after India abandoned negotiations in 2009 despite preliminary agreements with Iran and Pakistan. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his Pakistani counterpart Asif Ali Zardari officially inaugurated the final construction phase of the multi - billion - dollar now - renamed Iran - Pakistan(IP) gas pipeline project on March 11,2013. On Saturday, Khurshid said India was ready to participate in the project. Khurshid made the announcement in a meeting with Ali Akbar Velayati, senior adviser to Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, in Iran’s capital, Tehran. Indian Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister M. Veerappa Moily said in late March that his country is willing to join the Iran - Pakistan(IP) gas pipeline project, describing the multi - billion - dollar project as “beneficial” to New Delhi. The Indian external affairs minister also expressed his country’s readiness to invest in the development of the Iranian port of Chabahar.
The Hindustan Times quoted Khurshid on Sunday as saying that, " We are going ahead with the Chabahar project. Cabinet has already cleared it. ”
Tehran and New Delhi are expected to ink an agreement to turn Iran's Southern port city of Chabahar into a hub for the transit of Indian goods to Afghanistan. The Indian external affairs minister also welcomed the construction of the North-South Transport Corridor, which connects the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf to the Caspian Sea via Iran, ultimately stretching to St. Petersburg and North Europe via the Russian Federation. Khurshid arrived in Tehran on Friday to attend the 17th meeting of Iran-India Joint Economic Commission, scheduled to be held in the Iranian capital on May 3-5. On Saturday, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi and Khurshid signed four memoranda of understanding to expand cooperation between the two countries. During his stay in Iran, the Indian external affairs minister will also inaugurate the Indian Culture Centre in Tehran and hold talks with the Indian community in Iran.