Pakistan states support for Turkmen gas

March 21, 2013 at 6:24 AM

ISLAMABAD, March 21 (UPI) -- Pakistan views a planned natural gas pipeline from Turkmenistan as a key way to address its energy concerns, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari said.

Zardari traveled to Turkmenistan to meet Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov on the occasion of the Persian New Year, Nowruz.

Zardari said during the meetings that bilateral ties would be strengthened through natural gas and trade corridors to the east, reports Pakistani newspaper Dawn.

Turkmen officials in early 2012 agreed to sell natural gas to Asian customers through the 1,050-mile pipeline that would stretch to India. Zardari said Pakistan was in full support of the planned Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India natural gas pipeline, Dawn reports.

U.S. officials have expressed support for the pipeline, seen as a rival to plans for a natural gas project backed by the Iranian government.

Zardari frustrated the U.S. government this month when he attended an inauguration for the Iranian pipeline alongside Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The U.S. government said support for that pipeline may violate sanctions imposed on Iran.

The U.S. State Department expressed doubt whether the Iranian pipeline, in the works since the 1990s, would ever develop. Iran says its helping Pakistan fund the pipeline's construction.

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