NewsSpecial WireIndian Prime Minister’s remarks worry Iran leaders

Indian Prime Minister’s remarks worry Iran leaders

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Iran Focus: Tehran, Iran, Jul. 25 – Iran’s state-run media have been giving prominence to India’s opposition and newspapers criticising the country’s prime minister for his remarks on an eight-billion-dollar pipeline project to join Iran’s natural gas fields to Pakistan and India. During an official visit to the United States, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told the Washington Post on Wednesday, “As far as the pipeline is concerned, only preliminary discussions have taken place. Iran Focus

Tehran, Iran, Jul. 25 – Iran’s state-run media have been giving prominence to India’s opposition and newspapers criticising the country’s prime minister for his remarks on an eight-billion-dollar pipeline project to join Iran’s natural gas fields to Pakistan and India.

During an official visit to the United States, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told the Washington Post on Wednesday, “As far as the pipeline is concerned, only preliminary discussions have taken place. We are terribly short of our energy supply and we desperately need new sources of energy. And that’s why with Pakistan we have agreed to explore the possibility of the pipeline. But I am realistic enough to realize that there are many risks, because considering all the uncertainties of the situation there in Iran. I don’t know if any international consortium of bankers would probably underwrite this”.

India’s oil minister said on Saturday that the proposed gas pipeline was a risky venture that would be difficult to finance. “The pipeline proposal is, as the Prime Minister stated, fraught with terrible risks”, Mani Shankar Aiyar said at a news conference.

The Indian prime minister’s allusion to political instability in Iran, coming in the middle of his successful visit to Washington, appeared to take Iranian leaders by surprise.

“The Iranian leaders decided to keep mum and let the state-owned media launch a counter-attack on Singh”, Hari Rajan, an Indian political analyst based in Dubai said in a telephone interview. “But the prospect of India, as a regional heavyweight in Asia, aligning itself with the U.S. is extremely unsavoury for Tehran”.

Iran’s state news agency, IRNA, played up opposition Bharatiya Janata Party’s criticism of Singh’s remarks, saying that the BJP “slammed” the Indian prime minister for changing his tone on the pipeline deal.

“Meanwhile, the left parties in an indication of their mood ahead of the monsoon session of Parliament sought the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh’s clarification on his reported comments in a US newspaper that the India-Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline project was ‘fraught with difficulties’”, IRNA said.

The official Iranian news agency also highlighted comments Monday by Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry that the country would continue its proposed multi-billion dollar gas pipeline from Iran, even if India refused to join it.

“Pakistan on Saturday cautioned the concerned parties against certain elements trying to create confusion about the project that had a win-win position for all the three parties”, it added.

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