10 August 2006
Ahmadinejad keen on energy ties with India
- Iranian parliament's views on LNG deal will be known shortly
- Ahmadinejad says he supports Iran-Pakistan-India natural gas pipeline
Siddharth Varadarajan and John Cherian
Tehran : Declaring that his government had put behind it the "dismay'' it felt at India's vote against Iran at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) last year, President Mahmud Ahmadinejad told The Hindu on Tuesday that he was looking forward to a ``promising horizon'' as far as bilateral relations were concerned.
The two countries had historical and civilisational ties, deep cultural affinities, as well as a common point of view on many regional issues. ``Ours is not the kind of relationship that will be affected by one mistake,'' he said.
The President denied India's IAEA vote had any role to play in the fact that a ``difference of opinion'' existed between the national oil companies of the two countries over the legal interpretation of the contract for the export of 5 million tonnes of LNG to India. New Delhi considers the deal, signed before Mr. Ahmadinejad became President and tied to an upper ceiling of $31 for Brent crude, binding and final. Tehran, on the other hand, maintains that the deal is not binding since the formal national ratification process had not been completed.
Mr. Ahmadinejad said he had asked the Iranian parliament to clarify the position and its views would be known shortly.
As for the Iran-Pakistan-India natural gas pipeline, the Iranian President said he strongly supported this ``pipeline of brotherhood and peace.'' Iran would like to be flexible on the price of the gas, he said, but the project was an economic one and thus the concerned prices ``cannot be very far away from international prices.'' At the same time, he said, he was optimistic that an agreement would be reached.