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Sanctions cloud Iran, Pakistan pipeline prospects

ISLAMABAD, Dec. 11 (UPI) -- The Pakistani government said Wednesday it was ready to move ahead with a gas pipeline from Iran but needed assurances regarding the impact of U.S. sanctions.

Pakistani Minister of Petroleum and Natural Resources Shahid Khaqan Abbasi met Monday in Tehran with Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zangeneh to discuss moving forward on a long-planned natural gas pipeline from Iran.

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A Pakistani government official told the Express Tribune on condition of anonymity there were concerns in Islamabad about U.S. sanctions on Iran.

"We cannot move ahead with the project unless the issue of possible U.S. sanctions is resolved," the official said.

Iran got relief from Western economic sanctions in exchange for nuclear concessions after reaching an interim deal with multilateral negotiators last month. Iran's trade in the energy sector, however, is still limited by sanctions.

The Pakistani government said it needs more sources of natural gas because its aging energy sector is leaving it short on electricity.

The U.S. government objects to the Iranian pipeline, favoring a rival project planned from Turkmenistan.

The U.S. State Department in early November said it was negotiating the terms of a $95 million loan to Pakistan to help it build a 50 megawatt wind power plant to help establish a layer of reliable electricity.

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