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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Rice Balks at Iranian Pipeline

NEW DELHI, India -- The United States has "concerns" about plans for a pipeline to transport natural gas to India from Iran, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Wednesday.

"Our views concerning Iran are very well-known and we have communicated to the Indian government our concerns about gas pipeline cooperation between Iran and India," Rice told a news conference in New Delhi. "We need to look at the broader question of how India meets its energy needs in the next decade."

The United States prohibits direct investment by American companies in Iran. U.S. relations with Iran have been suspended since 1980, following a student takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.

India wants to build the proposed 2,775-kilometer pipeline via Pakistan. It is investing in oil and gas fields in Iran to secure energy supplies because it depends on imports for 70 percent of its oil needs. Iran has the world's biggest reserves of gas after Russia.

India needs more energy to run power plants to keep up with demands from an expanding economy. Asia's fourth-largest economy may expand 6.9 percent in the fiscal year ending March 31, the Indian government estimates. The economy expanded 8.5 percent a year earlier, the most in 15 years.

Demand for the fuel is expected to rise to 188 million cubic meters per day by next year and to 284 million cubic meters by 2010, according to the Reliance Review of Energy Markets, compiled by Reliance Industries.

"We look forward to an energy dialogue" with India, Rice said. "The demand for energy in growing economies like India and the U.S." is rising, "and these demands will have to be met."

The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday reported that the United States may sell F-16 fighter jets to India and Pakistan, citing unidentified U.S. officials and other people with knowledge of the plan. Rice said she had discussed the issue with Indian Foreign Minister Natwar Singh and that there would be no announcement on the planes.

Pakistan was blocked for years against owning the jets by U.S. sanctions, most of which were lifted after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the newspaper said.