Energy deal on agenda for Ahmadinejad India visit
Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Iran''s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will stop in New Delhi next week on a brief "working visit" to be topped by talks on two multi-billion dollar energy deals, an official said Monday, reports AFP.

Ahmadinejad will arrive here on April 29 after a two-day state visit to India''s southern neighbour Sri Lanka, and leave later that day, the foreign ministry official said.

During his stay, Ahmadinejad''s first to India, he will meet his Indian counterpart Pratibha Patil and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the official said.

"Energy issues are on the agenda for talks," said the official, who declined to give more details.

Energy-hungry India, which imports more than 70 percent of its energy needs, has been racing to secure new supplies of oil and gas from abroad besides ramping up domestic production to sustain its booming economic growth.

New Delhi has been in talks with Iran, which has the world''s second largest known gas reserves after Russia, on two major projects.
Talks on supplying gas to India via Pakistan through a 2,600-kilometre (1,615-mile) pipeline, which began in 1994, have been stalled by tensions between India and Pakistan as well as disagreements over pricing and transit fees.

India has also been under pressure from the United States not to do business with Iran, viewed in Washington as a state sponsor of terrorism and seen as bent on acquiring nuclear weapons.

Another deal with Tehran, signed in 2005 for the supply of five million tonnes of gas per year for 25 years, has also stalled over price disputes.
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