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PM talks Bangla pipeline, clears Aiyar's visit

Sanjay Dutta
From The Times of India
August 23, 2005
link to this article.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday discussed with oil and external affairs ministers Mani Shankar Aiyar and Natwar Singh, respectively, India's course for breaking the logjam over the proposed $1 billion gas pipeline from Myanmar via Bangladesh.

The meeting cleared, in principle, Aiyar's visit to Dhaka for talks to iron out the nitty-gritties of a trilateral MoU with Bangladesh and Myanmar that has been hanging fire over inclusion of bilateral issues. Aiyar was earlier scheduled to visit Dhaka on August 27 after the Parliament session got over. Since the House sitting has been extended, he will now go at a later date, subject to confirmation from Dhaka.

The meeting also discussed the impact of last week's explosions across Bangladesh on the pipeline project and worry expressed by Myanmar over the delay in signing of the MoU.

Bangladesh is keen on Aiyar's visit for holding discussion. After agreeing in January to allow a pipeline for India's use through its territory, Bangladesh insisted that the trialteral MoU include its demand for using the Indian transmission network for bringing power from Bhutan and Nepal, using Indian territory for transporting goods to Nepal and Bhutan and that New Delhi reduces the $2.5 billion trade deficit.

India said these were bilateral issues and suggested alternatives to address Bangladesh's concerns. It is yet to get reply from Bangladesh.

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