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developments in the region and abroad
India, Iran, Pakistan in talks on gas pipeline project

          NEW DELHI, Mar 14 (AFX): Indian, Pakistani and Iranian officials are meeting in Tehran today to discuss routes for a multi-billion-dollar gas pipeline and gas pricing, India's junior petroleum minister Dinsha Patel said.
All three routes -- northern, central and southern -- will have to pass through Pakistan's restive Baluchistan province, Patel told parliament.
'The Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline would have to cross Baluchistan in any logical route option,' he said.
'However, adequate safeguards would be built into the project structure to ensure the safety and security of gas supplied to India,' he said, adding that each route would be studied in detail for a project report.
Patel said the three-way talks, set to continue tomorrow and Thursday, will also address gas pricing, project structure and a tripartite government-to-government framework agreement.
The pipeline project will bring Iran revenue, Pakistan transit fees and India energy. The countries hope to start building the pipeline in 2007.
The Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline project envisages a line of about 2,600-kilometres from Assaluyeh in Iran to the India-Pakistan border.

China could overtake US's India trade

NEW DELHI (Internet): Despite the substantial nuclear cooperation deal, sealed by visiting President George W Bush earlier this month, trade growth between India and China has been so rapid that the United States may lose out to China as India's largest trading partner within a few years.
India's bilateral trade with China in 2005 set a new record at US$18.71 billion, up nearly 38 per cent from 2004. India had set a target of $20 billion by 2008, but that could be achieved well in advance. India's exports to China grew by more than 27 per cent in 2005, nearly 38 per cent higher than the overall growth in Sino-India bilateral trade.
"China should emerge as India's largest trading partner, overtaking the US within a year or two, with two-way trade exceeding $30 billion in 2007," Nagesh Kumar, director general of the Research and Information System for Developing Countries, a government-funded think-tank, told IPS in an interview.

US refuses to export N-tech to Pakistan

ISLAMABAD (Xinhuanet): US Energy Secretary Samuel W.Bodman have said that the United States would not export nuclear technology to Pakistan and oppose a gas pipeline from Iran to Pakistan, according to local press reports Tuesday.
"The security situation needs to be improved as it is an impediment to investment. Until there is an improvement, substantial investment is not possible," the visiting US energy secretary told journalists when asked about foreign investment in a gas pipeline project from Turkmenistan.
Bodman, who arrived in Islamabad for talks on US cooperation in Pakistan's energy sector, did not support the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project, saying, "Our country has significant problems with Iran. They are working on nuclear weapons and we are trying to prevent it, so it is impossible to support a contractual agreement."
Asked if the United States would help Pakistan build a 1,000 MW nuclear power plant, he said, "We have developed a wide-ranging dialogue but it does not include cooperation in nuclear energy. Civil nuclear energy cooperation has not been discussed and it is not on my agenda."
"There are so many things that we can do. There is a long list," he said, adding that the United States could help Pakistan meet its energy needs from coal, wind and solar sources. "We can help Pakistan with our research in coal energy. A survey of various locations can be carried out where wind and solar energy can be put to use," he said.
He hinted the United States could help Pakistan with gas pipelines from Qatar and Turkmenistan. "Apart from this (the gas pipeline from Iran), we can be helpful," he said, without committing any financial assistance to Pakistan. "However, we stand ready to help if possible to find finances," he added.

Milosevic's Son Says Father Was 'Killed'

THE HAGUE (AP): Slobodan Milosevic's son alleged Tuesday that his father had been "killed," while a UN war crimes tribunal official said the court had been told the late Serb leader had regular access to unprescribed medication and alcohol smuggled into his prison cell.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the tribunal's strict confidentiality rules, told The Associated Press that the unit's prison warden had told the court that he could no longer guarantee Milosevic's health.
Slobodan Milosevic's son Marko speaks to the press at Moscow airport prior to his departure for the Netherlands, Tuesday, March 14, 2006. Despite uncertainty over where the funeral would be held, Milosevic's son, Marko, was granted a visa to enter the Netherlands and claim the body.

Nepal announces separate policies to contain guerrillas

NEPAL, Mar 14 (Xinhua): The Nepali government Monday announced two separate policies targeting the anti-government guerrillas in an effort to mainstream the guerrillas and restore peace in the country through peaceful means.
These include a policy regarding surrender and rehabilitation of the guerrillas and a policy concerning internally displaced persons (IDPs), Home Minister Kamal Thapa told a press conference here.
As per newly formed policy regarding surrender and rehabilitation, the government announced prizes and other facilities to the guerrillas who want to surrender.
The government also increased the amount of prize to the guerrillas surrendering with weapons.
The policy on IDPs has the provision of rehabilitation of the people who were compelled to be IDPs due to flaring conflict of the country and other natural calamities and other human caused calamities, Thapa said.


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