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Indian petroleum minister to be invited to visit Bangladesh this month

Shahnaj Begum
From The Independent, Bangladesh
August 17, 2005
link to this article.

The government will extend an invitation to Indian Petroleum Minister Moni Shankar Aiyar to visit Bangladesh this month.

Official sources expressed optimism that the proposed visit would provide an opportunity to Adviser, Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry Mahmudur Rahman to discuss tri-nation gas pipeline project and other bilateral matters with Indian minister, a highly placed source told The Independent yesterday.

In exchange of allowing its territory for gas pipeline from Myanmar to India, Bangladesh wants corridor through India for trade with Nepal and Bhutan and for bringing electricity.

Earlier, in a letter dated March 7 the Indian Petroleum Minister expressed his desire to discuss the issues relating to the gas pipeline, before signing the MoU. AKM Mosharraf Hossain, former state minister for energy and mineral resources sat across the table with the Indian Petroleum Minister Moni Shankar Aiyar and Myanmar Energy Minister Lun Thai in Myanmar in January last and fixed the date of signing MoU.

Indian government arranged a meeting with the Myanmar government excluding Bangladesh last month to explore the possibility of taking the pipeline from Myanmar to Mizoram and onwards to Assam ending in West Bengal, a distance of 1400 km, which is roughly double the length of the pipeline should it travel through Bangladesh.

After the recent visit of the Indian Foreign Minister Natwar Singh in Bangladesh the deadlock over the proposed gas pipeline seems to be removed as he expressed the desire to continue efforts to facilitate the laying of gas pipeline from Myanmar to India via Bangladesh.

It is learnt that Bangladesh has put certain conditions for allowing gas pipeline to run from Myanmar to India through its territory. Bangladesh's long pending request to India to allow land transit to Nepal, and import of hydro-electricity from Nepal and Bhutan will be the main agenda for the discussion.

A draft of the MoU was finalised at the first meeting of the Techno-Economic Working Committee on Myanmar-Bangladesh-India gas pipeline, which concluded in Yangon on February 25.

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