China shows interest in Iran gas pipeline
China has said it will explore the possibility of joining the $7-billion Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project, GN reported.
But Beijing is not yet ready to make a commitment on the issue despite invitations by both Pakistan and Iran to join the project.
" China is in urgent need of more energy. Of course we will be interested. But it depends on a lot of things. As far as I know, this is just a proposal. So whether it becomes a reality we do not know or even if it is feasible or it is workable, we do not know," He Yafei, assistant minister of foreign affairs, told reporters.
The statement comes within days of Indian foreign secretary Shivshankar Menon and his Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir holding talks on the issue in Islamabad.
The issue was also discussed by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Pakistani leaders in Islamabad.
Ahmadinejad expressed confidence that the project will go ahead despite strong opposition to it from the US.
One of the challenges in widening the scope of the project to include China is the huge difference in the land levels on the Pakistan-China border as the Chinese side is at high level.
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf said in Beijing last April that experts were looking at the feasibility of pumping gas to overcome the problem of land levels or raising the height of the pipeline at a point near the Khunjerab Pass.
" Pakistan is very much in favour of the pipeline between the Gulf and China through Pakistan," he said while speaking at the elite Tsinghua University.
He is believed to have had a discussion on the matter with Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao before making the statement at the university.
China has been in talks with India and other countries on how best the region can meet its energy needs and work jointly on the matter, according to He.
"When we go about it alone, it is pretty difficult because it is a global issue. We need cooperation from other countries. But once we join hands, the solutions (to energy problems) will be nearer," He said.
"I am not ruling out any possibility. But this is a question for experts to answer," the Chinese minister added.