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India, Pakistan Plan to Settle Transit Fee for Turkmenistan Gas

India intends to agree “at the earliest” on a fee payable to Pakistan for transporting natural gas from Turkmenistan through a pipeline that will also pass through Afghanistan.

The fee accord is needed before the nations sign an agreement to buy gas from Turkmenistan, India’s Oil Minister S. Jaipal Reddy told reporters at a joint press conference with Pakistan’s Petroleum Minister Asim Hussain in New Delhi. The meeting today was the third on the transit fee and the first between the ministers, India’s oil ministry said in a statement.

The U.S., which is seeking to end its military presence in Afghanistan, supports a pipeline through the country and is urging the South Asian nations to abandon a similar link from Iran. The pipeline may help India and Pakistan normalize economic ties after six decades of distrust and hostility since winning independence from British colonial rule in 1947.

The two countries may each buy 38 million cubic meters a day of gas transported by the almost 1,700-kilometer (1,057 miles) pipeline and Afghanistan will take 14 million, Reddy said in April last year.

Pakistan is close to signing an accord with Turkmenistan for the gas, minister Hussain said. The planned pipeline may be completed by 2016, India’s oil ministry said in a statement April 28 last year.

India also offered to sell gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and fuel oil to Pakistan and may build pipelines to transport the products, according to today’s statement.

“India is exporting oil products to various countries and Pakistan is importing,” Reddy said. Pakistan “has shown interest in this and our groups will meet over the next few weeks to take this forward.”

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