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SEOUL: The leaders of North and South Korea will hold their first-ever summit in June in a bid to start defusing the world's last Cold War flashpoint, both governments announced.


ATHENS: Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis proclaimed �an important political victory� after the ruling socialists narrowly defeated opposition conservatives in a fiercely contested election.


LIMA: Tension remained high after police and protesters clashed in Lima as President Alberto Fujimori's main rival led thousands of supporters in an angry march on the presidential palace, claiming election fraud.


MOSCOW: Chechen rebels have staged a wave of guerrilla raids on Russian forces in the last 48 hours, probing the defences of Moscow's troops, Russian military headquarters said.


LA PAZ: An end to a week of violent protests in Bolivia appeared possible Monday, after a private company that had announced water rate increases abruptly canceled its contract with the Bolivian government.


TBILISI: Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze stormed to an overwhelming victory in presidential elections over the weekend, but opposition candidates accused the government of massive vote fraud.


BUDAPEST: Parts of Hungary and northern Serbia were under a state of emergency after floods in the region killed several people and left hundreds of communities cut off, officials and reports said.


PARIS: Pakistan's military leader General Pervez Musharraf said after meeting France's foreign minister here that he was ready to talk with Indian leaders over Kashmir, but complained India was hostile.


JERUSALEM: Israel said it would lay down its final conditions for the Arab world at Tuesday's summit with US President Bill Clinton in Washington, but hopes of a deal on all tracks of the peace process are uncertain.


ILIGAN, Philippines: A power outage blacked out the major Philippine island of Mindanao and left 16 million people without electricity amid fighting between government forces and Muslim secessionist rebels, officials said.


RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is opposed to any increase in OPEC oil production in June, when the cartel is next due to review supply, a Saudi oil official told

10 Apr (AFP )

Iran, Pakistan and India Tiptoe Toward Pipeline

Apr 7(Stratfor)

A proposed overland gas pipeline from Iran to India, through Pakistan, would offer economic advantages to all three and could possibly open a dialogue between hostile neighbors India and Pakistan. India's Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh said April 5 that he would fly to Iran in May to discuss the pipeline, reported the South China Morning Post. Discussions have been ongoing for several years and on April 3 Pakistan's military government finally approved the project.

Security for the pipeline and Pakistan's reputation as a hotbed of Islamic fundamentalism are major barriers to construction. But India's growing need for gas will likely motivate it to continue working with Iran and push for construction. Disruptions caused by Islamic fundamentalism could, however, produce tension among the three countries.

All three would benefit economically from the pipeline. A deal would allow Iran to tap India's growing gas market. Iran has the second-largest gas reserves in the world and just discovered a new field with more than 445 billion cubic meters, reported ITAR-Tass on April 6. Indian requirements are expected to reach 2.3 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) by 2005, according to the Indian newspaper The Hindu. With its import requirements growing, a pipeline becomes economically viable. The Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline would have a capacity of 3.26 billion cubic feet per day (bcf/d). In exchange, Pakistan could generate as much as $600 to $700 million in transit fees, according to Hart's Asian Petroleum News, and possibly the option of supplying its own gas to India as well.

But security for the pipeline could pose a serious problem. Incidents of politically motivated violence plague the region. India and Pakistan have fought three wars and are still fighting a proxy war in Kashmir. Rebels in India's northeastern province of Assam and Islamic militants in Kashmir both have bombed buildings, railways and bridges. Within Pakistan itself, fundamentalists frequently bomb local political targets. With antagonistic relations between the two countries and Pakistani fundamentalists opposed to any relations with India, a joint pipeline would become an irresistible target for any group interested in disrupting Indian-Pakistani or Iranian-Pakistani relations.

There are several groups that could pose this threat. Islamic fundamentalists fighting against India in Kashmir would likely oppose anything beneficial to the Hindu nationalist government. Another possible group opposed to the pipeline are Taliban rulers in Afghanistan. The Taliban controls 90 percent of Afghanistan and receives most of its support from Pakistan. The opposition Northern Alliance, still recognized by the United Nations as Afghanistan's legitimate government, is backed by Iran.

Despite the dangers, India's growing energy needs may force it to push for the pipeline. India will have to rely on imports for most of its gas. Right now India is the world's seventh-largest energy consumer. Its natural gas consumption rate has doubled in the last five years, from 0.6 Tcf in 1995 to 1.2 Tcf in 2000. The Indian government's encouragement of gas-fired electric power plants continues to increase demand. With domestic reserves at only 22.9 Tcf, India is one of the largest gas importers in the world. As a developing country with both industrialization and modernization needs, India's energy demands will only increase.

India's importing options are limited. The government already has several liquefied natural gas (LNG) deals with Oman, Qatar and UAE, which deliver gas by tanker, a relatively expensive method. Getting gas from Iran via an undersea pipeline is another option. Although a feasibility study is being conducted, such an undersea route would be very costly, reports the U.S. Energy Information Administration. India has also been talking to the Turkmenistan government about a pipeline that would cross Afghanistan. But India is reluctant to rely on Afghanistan for a transit route, reported Agence France-Presse.

The security burden will lie with Pakistan. Undoubtedly, Islamabad and Tehran will discuss security issues as the pipeline negotiations move forward. Once it becomes operational, however, any disruption will fall to Iran to solve. As in any seller-client relationship, the seller must guarantee delivery. India will pay Iran for the gas and rightly expect delivery. When disruptions occur along the line, New Delhi will look to Tehran to solve the problems.

Solving disruptions, however, could cause tension between Iran and Pakistan. Once the pipeline is built and attacked by saboteurs, Iran will call on Pakistan to step up security and prevent further disruptions. If Pakistan cannot or will not stop the saboteurs, Iran would cut off transit fees. The revoking of revenue would make Pakistan even less likely to secure the pipeline. India will blame Islamabad, and Tehran will be forced to respond. Siding with India, even over straight economics could seriously damage relations between Islamabad and Tehran.

Shevardnadze wins again in Georgia

London, Apr 9


Election officials in Georgia say the incumbent president, Eduard Shevardnadze, has been re-elected for a second term.

The head of the electoral commission Dzumber Lominadze said that with more than three-quarters of the votes counted, Mr Shevardnadze had secured over eighty percent of the ballots cast.

His main challenger, the former Communist leader, Dzhumber Patiashvili, was far behind on about seventeen percent.

International monitors have already reported evidence of some polling irregularities � and the opposition is alleging widespread fraud. The BBC correspondent in Georgia says that despite falling living standards, Mr Shevardnadze � the former Soviet Foreign Minister � has gained respect for restoring order after the violence of the mid-1990s.

Iranians hold talks with Taleban

London, Apr 9


An Iran government delegation has been having talks with Taleban representatives in the Afghan capital Kabul.

The talks are part of investigations into the deaths of eight Iranian diplomats and one journalist during fighting two years ago when Taleban forces seized the northern Afghan town of Mazar-i-Sharif.

The Taleban says it was not responsible for the the killings; Iran has said it will not normalise relations with the Taleban until those responsible were brought to trial.

The Taleban's foreign minister, Wakil Ahmad Motawakkil is quoted by Talebanm radio as blaming what he called Zionist forces as trying to create tension between the two Islamic countries.

All Over the Globe is published by IPA House.
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