ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, March 22 (UPI) -- Washington may consider a civilian nuclear energy package for Pakistan at a major bilateral conference scheduled for the end of the week, U.S. officials said.
Pakistan is on the verge of a major energy crisis. Energy officials said recently that the national energy grid faced shortfalls of more than 4,000 megawatts during peak hours, leaving several parts of the country prone to blackouts.
U.S. and Pakistani officials meet Friday in Washington to discuss what Richard Holbrooke, the U.S. special envoy to the region, described at a U.S. State Department briefing as "a very broad and complex agenda."
U.S. diplomats in Islamabad said the talks could include Pakistan's "desire to tap nuclear energy," The Times of India reports.
The move is likely to unsettle strained ties between nuclear foes India and Pakistan. Nuclear security in the region is also a concern as Pakistan struggles to control a Taliban insurgency.
The civilian nuclear energy proposal comes on the heels of a deal between Tehran and Islamabad for a long-delayed natural gas pipeline from the South Pars gas complex in the Persian Gulf.
That could ease some of Pakistan's energy woes when the pipeline goes into operation in 2014, though Washington has expressed concern over any deal that would deliver economic benefits to Iran.