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US to fund Pak gas pipeline if...

April 21, 2006 19:07 IST
The US has offered funding and security guarantees for the $3 billion Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan gas pipeline if Islamabad "abandoned" the Indo-Iran pipeline project.

The offer was made unofficially to Pakistan to beef up the country's non-nuclear and conventional energy options, including generation of power through gas and coal-run power plants, 'The News' daily reported on Friday.

It said the US offered to provide funding and security for the TAP pipeline if Islamabad "abandoned" the Iran-Pakistan-India, which Washington opposed due to the confrontation with Iran over Tehran's nuclear programme.

Pakistan maintains that it is still weighing options to choose among IPI, TAP and a pipeline from Qatar, but no decision has been taken so far.

Pakistan, which shares a long border with Iran, is apprehensive that any decision to abandon IPI could anger Tehran. Both Pakistan and India were keen on IPI as it was considered more "feasible" in terms of costs and security in comparison to TAP and Qatar pipelines.

Already US Energy Secretary Sam Bodman visited Pakistan last month soon after the visit of President George W Bush to identify areas in which the US could help the country to boost its energy resources without extending the civilian nuclear deal Washington has struck with India.

A high-power Pakistani delegation is expected to visit Washington shortly to finalise the framework for cooperation in the field of energy.

Meanwhile, the Asian Development Bank, which has conducted a study of the TAP pipeline, suggested that it should laid through Kabul and not through Kandahar, where Taliban is active.

It said the pipeline should be laid through Turkmenistan city of Taskepri to Peshawar in Pakistan covering Afghan cities of Shebarghan, Balakh, Mazar, Samangan, Kabul and Jalalabad which would work out to 1600 kms.

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