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Central & South Asia
Ahmedinejad to push India gas deal
Iranian president expected to sign a crucial energy pact during his visit to Delhi.
Last Modified: 01 May 2008 00:33 GMT
Iran has launched a $1.2bn project to upgrade Colombo's sole oil refinery [EPA]

Mahmoud Ahmedinejad will hold talks in India on an energy pact on the last leg of his tour of South Asia.
 
The Iranian president, who will be in Delhi for less than five hours on Tuesday, will be meeting Manmohan Singh, the Indian prime minister, as well as Pratibha Patil, his Indian counterpart.
Earlier on Tuesday, Ahmadinejad launched a $1.2bn project in Sri Lanka, funded by Tehran, to renovate Colombo's sole oil refinery.
 
The four-year upgrade will triple Sri Lanka's refinery capacity to 150,000 barrels per day from the current 50,000 barrels.
AHM Fowzie, Sri Lanka's petroleum minister, said Iran had agreed to pay $700m for the upgrade.

On Monday, Ahmedinejad held talks in Pakistan over the security aspect of a gas pipeline originating from Iran and passing through Pakistan on its way to India.

Delhi and Islamabad are at odds over the issue.

'Deal possible'

It is expected that Ahmadinejad will finally seal a deal involving the three countries.

Apart from the security angle, the project was stalled by disputes over price and transit fees.

However, the $7bn deal is being opposed by the US, which wants to isolate Iran over its nuclear programme.

Crucial for India

Lieutenant-General Ravi Sawhney (retired), a former Indian military intelligence official, told Al Jazeera that the talks with Iran would be crucial for India.

"It will be a political dialogue at the highest level which will smoothen the way for the pipeline between Iran and India," said Sawhney.

Sawhney said that US would have no say over anything, once the deal between India and Iran came through.

India imports more than 70 per cent of  its energy needs and has been racing to secure new supplies of oil and gas.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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