India Begins Talks On Kazakhstan's Oil And Gas Fields

India began discussions on the development of Kazakhstan's oil and gas fields and the possibility of laying a pipeline through the vast Central Asian nation during a meeting of the two nations' leaders on Monday.

"India is prepared to make a major investment in the oil and gas sector in Kazakhstan, as we did last year in the Sakhalin field of Russia," Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee said.

Exploration and development of Kazakhstan's oil and gas resources in Kurmangazy in the Caspian Sea area, Alibekmol and Darkhan were discussed during Vajpayee's meeting with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev.

The meeting was overshadowed by the fear of war between nuclear-armed Pakistan and India, and conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, all of which sent representatives to the summit.

"India in a few years is going to become one of the largest suppliers of natural gas and will be looking for a market" and ways to deliver its product, India's deputy foreign minister, Omar Abdullah, told reporters after the leaders met.

In the past, India has discussed the idea of a pipeline that would cross Pakistan, with whom it has fought three wars in the 55 years since both became independent from Britain.

India has also held talks on the proposed pipeline with Iran, through which it could pass to reach Kazakhstan, Iran's neighbor on the Caspian Sea.

Vajpayee and Nazarbayev also talked about India contributing its expertise to help Kazakhstan build a software technology park near the southern business hub in Almaty, and develop small-scale industries, such as in food production.

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