Pakistan said on 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 (ICBC) failed to sign 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 at a press briefing.
The Pakistan team would hold talks with Russian gas giant Gazprom and other companies and officials, Mr Basit said.
A petroleum ministry official confirmed that Russia was a possible source of funding, given that there had been no formal response from the ICBC as yet.
The US wants Islamabad to abandon the project because of sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programme, but Pakistan has insisted it is vital in helping to overcome a debilitating energy crisis.
Islamabad and Tehran signed a deal in 2010 according to which Iran will supply natural gas to Pakistan from 2014, with sales to reach 750 million cubic feet to one billion cubic feet per day by mid-2015.
Speaking about ties with the US, Mr Basit said that parliamentary guidelines being formulated would be followed on issues involving Nato supplies and drone strikes. “Pakistan looks forward to normalisation of relations with the US after the completion of parliamentary process of review of foreign policy,” he said.