TEHRAN, May 8 (UPI) -- Iran is ready to help Pakistan build its portion of a natural gas pipeline planned from the South Pars gas field in the Persian Gulf, an official said.
A delegation from Islamabad is scheduled to visit Tehran "soon" to discuss prospects for the Iranian natural pipeline, Iran's semiofficial Fars News Agency reports.
Pakistan's Federal Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Asim Hussain told lawmakers he had assurances from Tehran for $250 million in assistance for the project, the report said.
Islamabad is facing a severe energy crisis. Pakistan expects by June to have a route survey completed in its territory.
Iran has started work on its section of a pipeline that would stretch from the South Pars gas field in the Persian Gulf to Pakistan. Both sides have expressed interest in the project, though the United States has stated opposition given the potential economic benefits for Iran.
Washington backs a rival project that would stretch from Turkmenistan to India through Afghanistan and Pakistan. Security concerns in Afghanistan, however, challenge that project's development.
U.S. Secretary of Clinton, meanwhile, has called on India, an occasional player in Iran's pipeline plans, to cut its imports of Iranian oil.