Thursday, March 01, 2012 -
India is resisting U.S. pressure to disregard Iran, which New Delhi sees as crucial in opening up trade routes with Central Asian.
Keen to acquire the region’s wealth of hydrocarbons and minerals, the Indian government is pushing hard to create a seamless rail link with Russia via the Caspian Sea and the Iranian seaport of Bandar Abbas, the New Delhi-based news agency The Hindu reported sources as saying.
“We recognize that Iran is the key to connecting with Central Asia,” sources told The Hindu.
New Delhi has taken the lead by strongly urging Russia and Iran to proceed with their proposed North-South rail corridor.
The three project partners held a major meeting in February on the scheme, which has won the support of at least 15 countries to date.
The participants would need to lay stretches of missing links to create a seamless railway route, as well as harmonize their customs procedures.
But intense pressure from Washington has resulted in the postponement of a natural gas pipeline project that was to link India and Pakistan with Iranian reserves.
However, plans for the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline, which bypasses Iran, are being considered with U.S. support, but concerns remain over the stability of a pipeline running through wartorn Afghanistan.