ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Feb. 8 (UPI) -- Pakistani officials said they would welcome China to a planned natural gas pipeline from Iran's South Pars as the role for India fades, Tehran said.
Iran is eager to deliver gas from its giant South Pars field through a long-delayed pipeline to eastern markets. Tehran and Islamabad agreed on a comprehensive deal for the pipeline in 2009.
Pakistan, faced with a looming energy crisis, is slated for 750 million cubic feet of natural gas per day from the South Pars gas field in Iran as part of a 25-year deal for the proposed pipeline.
India was intended as a partner in the project, though its interest has waned. Islamabad said Tehran should not ask Islamabad to guarantee the supply of natural gas to India because of the stormy relationship between the two countries.
Manouchehr Mottaki, the Iranian foreign minister, said most in Pakistan viewed a Chinese role in the project as beneficial if India formally backs out, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reports.
Tehran said in January that it saw Russian gas monopoly Gazprom as a possible partner in the long-delayed pipeline as well.
Ankara is expected to host Iranian and Pakistani officials for a signing ceremony on the pipeline before the weekend.