ISLAMABAD -- Pakistan said Thursday it would seek Russian
funding for a multi-billion dollar gas pipeline from Iran amid
Chinese reluctance to invest in the project over fears it could
be hit by sanctions.
The quest for alternative sources of funds began when the
Industrial and Commercial Bank of China failed to sign up to a
consortium to finance Pakistan's $1.5 billion share of the project.
"Pakistan's technical delegation will visit Moscow early
next month to have discussions on this subject," said foreign
ministry spokesman Abdul Basit.
The Pakistan team will hold talks with relevant officials
and different companies, including Russian gas giant Gazprom,
A petroleum ministry official confirmed that Russia was a
possible source of funding, given that there has still been no
formal response from ICBC.
The United States wants Islamabad to abandon the project because of sanctions against
Iran over its controversial nuclear program, but Pakistan has
insisted it is vital in helping to overcome a debilitating
Pakistan and Iran signed a deal in 2010 in which Tehran
would supply natural
gas to its eastern neighbor from 2014, with sales to reach
750 million cubic feet (21 million cubic meters) to one billion
cubic feet per day by mid-2015.
Pakistan, which produces just 80% of its own electricity
needs, has presented the $7.5 billion gas project as a partial answer to the
energy crisis, which has led to blackouts and has suffocated
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