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Washington links Pakistani aid to IPI

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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Aug. 18 (UPI) -- U.S. officials indicated they would withhold financial aid to Pakistan to discourage Islamabad from moving ahead with a pipeline project with Iran.

Pakistan would receive 750 million cubic feet of natural gas from the planned 1,724-mile Iran-Pakistan-India natural gas pipeline to generate electricity.

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Pakistani intelligence officials have raised repeated objections to the route of the pipeline, which would travel through the volatile Baluchistan province. Pricing terms and an uncertain role for India continue to weigh on project developments as well.

Richard Holbrooke, the U.S. special envoy to the region, put foreign aid to Pakistan on the table to encourage Islamabad to back away from the project, Pakistan's The Nation newspaper reports.

Washington opposes any project that could give Tehran economic benefits, especially in the energy sector. Bipartisan lawmakers are pushing tough sanctions on foreign exporters that supply gasoline to Iran.

Sources to The Nation said they briefed Holbrooke on the looming energy crisis in Pakistan. Holbrooke, for his part, said he appreciated the developments, noting the United States would cooperate with Islamabad on alternative solutions.

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