U.S. envoy takes u-turn on Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline project
U.S. Special Representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke Sunday warned Pakistan against a multi-billion-dollar Iran gas pipeline intended to bring the much-needed natural gas to the energy-starved country, reported APP, a local official news agency, on Sunday.
Pakistan and Iran formally struck 7.5 billion-U.S.-dollar gas pipeline deal in Tehran on June 13, under which Iran will supply Pakistan with natural gas from mid-2014, Xinhua reported.
"Pakistan should be wary of opting for gas deal with Iran," Holbrooke told reporters on the conclusion of his two-day visit to Pakistan.
On Saturday, the U.S. envoy did not object at the Iran gas line when a reporter asked him about the project in his joint press conference with the Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi.
Holbrooke took an u-turn on the issue and said on Sunday, "We warn Pakistan to wait for upcoming U.S. law against Iran". He said the U.S. senate is working on a law and the law could affect the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline.
The UN Security Council slapped sanctions on Iran this month over its nuclear programme.
"New sanctions on Iran can impact Pakistan", said Holbrooke, adding "US understands that Pakistan faces major energy crisis".
"We warn Pakistan not to make progress on the project unless the U.S. is formulated", the U.S. envoy insisted.
The U.S. has always opposed the Iran gas pipeline with energy- starved Pakistan and in April US Assistant Secretary of State Robert Blake urged Pakistan to reconsider its deal with Iran.
The pipeline was initially mooted to carry gas from Iran to Pakistan and on to India. India withdrew from negotiations last year after signing a nuclear deal with the United States, but has kept open the option of rejoining the project at a later stage.
Under the Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline project, Iran will export more than 21 million cubic metres (742 million cubic feet) of natural gas on a daily basis.