India, Pak to discuss TAPI gas line on Friday

Pakistan and India will hold secretary-level talks on bilateral trade of petroleum products and the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-?Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project in New Delhi from 23 March.

Talking to The Dawn newspaper in Islamabad, petroleum and natural resources secretary Mohammad Ejaz Chaudhry said that he would be leading a delegation to India later this week to discuss the possibility of importing refined petroleum products, and the transit fee to be charged on the TAPI pipeline.

He said the Pakistan delegation would also attend an international conference on natural gas being held in New Delhi from 23-25 March.

The talks on trade of petroleum products had been postponed twice this year, first on the request of the Indian authorities and then on Pakistan's request, the paper reported.

Chaudhry said there was no formal proposal on the table since it was the first meeting of the technical committee on petroleum trade. It would be a sort of fact-finding mission, another official said.

Sweden recently strongly urged Pakistan to abort the TAPI project as it was unviable. It also asked Pakistan to drop plans for a gas pipeline from Iran; but Pakistan is unlikely to oblige on either count.