ISLAMABAD, March 6 (UPI) -- Washington stands ready to help Pakistan address energy challenges but can't support its turn toward Iranian natural gas, the U.S. ambassador said.
U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Richard Olson attended a ceremony to mark the restoration of three generators tied to hydropower dams in Pakistan. The repairs restore about 130 megawatts of power to Pakistan's energy grid, he said.
Olson said hydropower was one of the ways in which Pakistan can address what he said were "extensive" power shortages. Programs outlined by the U.S. Agency for International Development would support another 900 MW of power generation in Pakistan.
"We support Pakistan's efforts to increase the efficient use of energy and reform the energy sector to improve its solvency," he said. "Taken together, this will help Pakistan meet the needs of its growing population and economy."
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari traveled to Iran last week to discuss a natural gas pipeline planned from the South Pars field in the Persian Gulf. The Iranian government said it would help finance the construction of the pipeline in Pakistani territory.
Olson was quoted by The News International in Pakistan as saying Washington supports a rival project planned from Turkmenistan.
"As far as the Pakistan, Iran gas project is concerned, the U.S. does not lend support to it and rather we support TAPI," he said.