Pakistan, Russia consider Iranian pipeline

March 30, 2012 at 7:05 AM

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, March 30 (UPI) -- Joining a natural gas pipeline planned from Iran to Pakistan would be "advantageous" to the Russians, a European diplomat said.

A delegation from Pakistan is to visit Moscow next week to discuss a role for Gazprom in the natural gas pipeline planned from Iran's offshore South Pars gas field.

"This project is advantageous to Moscow since its realization would carry Iranian gas toward South Asian markets so that in the near future it would not compete with Russian gas to Europe," a European diplomat told Pakistan's newspaper The Nation on condition of anonymity.

The announcement follows a mid-March decision by a banking consortium led by the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China to walk away from the planned natural gas pipeline. Washington has expressed reservations about the project because of the potential economic benefits for Iran.

Iran has started work on its section of a pipeline. Pakistan expects by June to have a route survey completed in its territory.

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.

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