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. Iran presses India gas talks despite nuclear criticism
TEHRAN (AFP) Oct 25, 2005
Iran said Tuesday that India's vote in the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) criticising its nuclear activities would not affect talks on a major gas project, the oil ministry news agency Shana reported.

"According to Iranian officials, India's vote in the IAEA has not caused any damage in the process of talks for the gas exports pipeline and the talks will continue," deputy oil minister Hadi Nejad-Hosseinian said after the second meeting of a joint working group in Tehran.

Tehran had expressed disappointment after New Delhi joined 21 countries in voting in favour of an IAEA motion paving the way for Iran's referral to the UN Security Council.

Diplomats have said that at least two other countries that backed the resolution -- Britain and South Korea -- have seen obstacles to their exports since the vote.

In mid-June, India and Iran signed a memorandum of cooperation over building a gas pipeline between Iran and India via Pakistan.

"India presented a report about its talks with Pakistanis, showing the two sides have reached new agreements about the gas transit fee," Nejad-Hosseinian said, adding that he hoped the two sides would reach a final agreement to "smoothe the work for Iran".

The gas exports agreement sets the framework for discussions on the amount of gas to be transported and on when the more than seven-billion-dollar project to build the 2,600-kilometre (1,600-mile) link will start.

The next meeting of the working group is to held in New Delhi in early December.

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