Monday, May 15, 2006

US asks Pak to abandon gas project with Iran

The India Times:
The US has asked Pakistan to abandon the seven billion dollar gas pipeline planned to Pakistan and India ahead of next week's visit by a high-level Iranian delegation, a newspaper reported on Monday. READ MORE

"The US has asked Pakistan to distance itself from the pipeline, but the leadership is adamant in its refusal to the constant US demands," The Nation quoted a senior government official as saying.

Iran and Pakistan have said the project would forge ahead despite US reservations. Pakistan said the project is vital to meet the country's growing energy needs.

The US appeal came before Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki was slated to arrive on May 24 in Islamabad for consultations with Pakistani leaders on key issues including the international standoff over Tehran's nuclear programme and the pipeline.

A day later, Iranian First Vice President Parviz Dawoudi is also set to arrive.

Meanwhile, the joint working group of Iran, Pakistan and India was also scheduled to meet in the Pakistani capital from May 22 to 24 for technical discussions on the proposed 2,670 km pipeline from Iran's southern Pars field.

Those discussions are to be followed by ministerial-level talks next month in Tehran.

Pakistani officials said the project should take three to four years to complete after the three countries strike a final deal.