U.S. irked by Pakistani gas pipeline plans

Washington (UPI)– Washington advises its partners in Islamabad to rethink a deal signed with Tehran for a gas pipeline, U.S. officials said following a trip to the region.

A deal on a long-delayed natural gas pipeline from the South Pars gas complex in the Persian Gulf was signed March 16 by Pakistan and Iran. The so-called Peace Pipeline project was raised initially in 1994 and included India in the original plans.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Robert Blake told reporters in Washington following his recent trip to Asia that Washington preferred that Islamabad reconsider its options, Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper reports.

“We do not think it is the right time for doing this kind of transaction with Iran,” said Blake. “We have advised Pakistan to seek other alternatives.”

Washington said in January that it would help Islamabad secure liquefied natural gas supplies if it backs from the planned pipeline from Iran. Washington opposes any financial incentives for Iran because of disputes over its controversial nuclear program.

Iran, however, sits on some of the largest natural gas deposits in the world. Nevertheless, Washington instead has lobbied for an alternative pipeline option that could move gas from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan.

Indian officials, for their part, said recently they were interested in rejoining the Peace Pipeline.