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Pakistan invites Gazprom to join transnational pipeline project

MOSCOW, July 19 (RIA Novosti) - Pakistan wants Russian energy giant Gazprom to play an important role in a project to build a natural gas pipeline linking India, Pakistan and Iran, Islamabad's ambassador to Moscow said Thursday.

"We hope that Gazprom will become an important partner both in this project and in other projects to be carried out in Pakistan," Mustafa Kamal Kazi said.

He also said Pakistan is ready to make its territory available for oil and gas prospecting and production. "We hope that Gazprom will make use of our proposals," he said.

Iran, Pakistan and India agreed Monday on a formula for the price of natural gas to be pumped from gas-rich Iran through the pipeline.

The deal removed the main obstacle to the signing of a three-way agreement on building the 2,300 km Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) pipeline with an estimated price tag of $7.5 billion. The first deliveries are expected in 2011.

The price formula is based on the cost of natural gas in Japan, which has been accepted as the most suitable price gauge. Japan is one of the world's largest consumers of natural gas, and has a relatively stable energy market.

India and Pakistan are under U.S. pressure not to do business with Iran in the energy sector. But the parties to the project have repeatedly stated their resolve to move forward with the key project, regardless of Washington's opposition.

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