LNG deal with Iran gets fresh lease of life

India and Iran have agreed to renegotiate the price issue in a stalled LNG deal that went into cold storage after being agreed on in 2005. The Iranian foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, on his maiden visit to India in his present capacity, told TOI in an exclusive conversation ??we will find a formula to resolve?? the issue.

India, said sources, is willing to pay a slightly higher price than what was agreed upon earlier. An agreement is likely to be worked out soon.

Earlier, the Iranian price had been unacceptable to India, but both countries have agreed to work out a compromise with a new price that Iran has offered. Saying that both countries needed to be ??flexible due to rapid changing of conditions??, Mottaki said although India and Iran have historically been friendly nations, the time had come to ??modernise the relations??.

??It means we need to manage this relationship, we need to find out the new areas for cooperation to make a connection between the potential and our needs. India moved rapidly on its master plan for development. You have a lot of potential to offer in bilateral cooperation. At the same time, India needs energy, and secure sources of energy.?? The foreign minister is also very upbeat on the Iran-India gas pipeline, though there have been reservations in New Delhi and Islamabad about the high price charged by Tehran.

??We have good progress on the pipeline,?? said Mottaki. ??The trilateral meeting between India, Iran and Pakistan will happen before the end of this year. We have chosen an adviser company in Singapore to consider and propose the price. We have given our understanding of the price.

?They will prepare a final report and that will be a good base for starting the final talks trilaterally. The new government in Iran is serious. So, I have found, is the Indian side. We will be witness for good progress.?? Nevertheless, he acknowledged that there still existed differences on the pricing issue.

Iran?s nuclear issue too was discussed on Thursday night with foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee and on Friday morning with national security adviser M K Narayanan. ??We welcome India?s position. They acknowledge our right for peaceful uses of nuclear energy.??

Source: The Times of India, New Delhi
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