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Bangladesh Does Not Join Tri-National Gas Pipeline Talk in New Delhi

From Narinjara News, Bangladesh
July 6, 2005
link to this article.

The tri-nations gas pipeline conference will be held today in New Delhi, but representatives for Bangladesh will not be attending, according to a report of a Bangladeshi news agency.
Bangladesh cancelled plans to send its delegation as the invitation to attend came only one day prior to the meeting.

"Time is very short for attending tomorrow's meeting in New Delhi," Mahmudur Rahman, advisor to the energy ministry of Bangladesh, told Indian High Commissioner Veena Sikri in a meeting yesterday.

India's High Commissioner inquired about Bangladesh's participation in the meeting, Rahman said.

There was a report on July 3rd that India had decided to exclude Bangladesh from the proposed overland gas pipeline between India, Burma, and Bangladesh.

However, Mr Rahman stated on the fifth that they couldn't go ahead without Bangladesh; "but let them try," he said.

He said that if India and Burma can find a better route for the gas pipeline, they will obviously go for that, but the route through Bangladesh will be the best option.

In January of this year, it was announced that the pipeline would run through Arakan state in Burma and the Indian states of Mizoram and Tripura before crossing Bangladesh to reach India's west Bengal capital, Kolkata.

But Bangladesh has not signed onto the agreement because India will not agree to allow its territory to be used as a trade corridor between Nepal, Bhutan, and Bangladesh.

Bangladesh wants India to first address issues such as the reduction of the trade imbalance, providing a corridor for Nepalese goods to Bangladeshi ports, and access to potential hydroelectric power in Bhutan.

Burma's Energy Minister Lun Thi is now in New Delhi to explore alternative routes in case Bangladesh does not join in the $1 billion pipeline project.

The proposed pipeline was on of several options that India has been considering for bringing gas reserves from the Shwe Gas Field's block A-1 site in Burma. India's state-run oil and natural gas corporation has a 20 percent stake in Burma's A-1 and A-3 blocks, while GAIL has a 10 percent stake in the two sites.

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