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Iranian embassy denies gas deal is off

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Last updated on: September 28, 2005 18:49 IST

The Iranian Embassy in New Delhi has denied the report published in an Indian newspaper that the $22-billion Iran-India liquefied natural gas deal is off and said that no decision has formally been taken on the issue yet.

On the condition of anonymity, an embassy official said that although Iran has the exit route available, it is unlikely to 'reconsider' its commitment to supply LNG to India.

Last June, Iran and India had agreed on a $22-billion deal according to which Tehran was to supply five million tonne of gas to India every year. Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanghaneh and his Indian counterpart Mani Shankar Aiyar had signed the ambitious, and strategically important, deal.

The LNG exports from Iran to India are to begin in 2009. If the deal is cancelled by Iran, it will be a major setback to India's energy diplomacy and energy needs.

Reacting to India's vote against Iran's nuclear programme at the International Atomic Energy Agency, the official said: "We are not as angry as we are hurt. We are shocked and completely surprised."

No indication from Tehran to call off deal: India

Speaking with, the official said that since India had not hinted at voting against Iran at any stage, Tehran had hoped New Delhi would abstain from the vote. "We are not as angry with any other member as we are with India," he added.

He said it took three years of hard work to take the bilateral relations to today's level, but India has shocked Iran.

A New Delhi-based newspaper had reported on Wednesday that 'Iran has informed India that the five-million tonne a year liquefied natural gas export deal, with deliveries scheduled to begin in 2009 for a 25-year period, is off. This was conveyed to Indian officials in Vienna soon after the anti-Iran vote cast on Saturday by New Delhi at the International Atomic Energy Agency governing board meeting.'

Although the Iranian Embassy official did not comment directly on the report itself, he said: "The energy deal is not yet formally off. We are unaware of what transpired in Vienna, but we can tell you that Tehran is angry and from our end we are trying to pacify them as well as trying to save the situation."

Iran's National Security Advisor Ali Larijani had, at a press conference in Tehran, said: "India is our friend. We did not expect India to do so. (But) I believe that friends should not be judged by a single action. Iran enjoys friendly relations with India. Of course, we have complaints about their behaviour."

Meanwhile, Larijani's remarks have brought a created some hope in New Delhi and provided relief to those who are worried over the possible impact on India's energy security because of its vote against Iran.

Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi