ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, June 21 (UPI) -- Pakistan's foreign minister expressed hope the sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program would not affect his country's gas pipeline deal with Tehran.
Stressing the importance of the $7.6 billion gas deal in addressing Pakistan's energy crisis, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told reporters in Multan: "We want this agreement to sustain. We have to look after our interest but at the same time we don't want to violate international laws," Pakistan's Nation newspaper reported Monday.
Qureshi's remarks come after reported comments by Richard Holbrooke, U.S. special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, on the impact of the Iran sanctions on the pipeline deal that will deliver Iranian natural gas to Pakistan.
On his Pakistan visit during the weekend, Holbrooke said Pakistan should wait for the U.S. legislation being drafted on the sanctions, Financial Times reported.
"Pakistan has an obvious, major energy problem and we are sympathetic to that, but in regards to a specific project ... we caution the Pakistanis not to over-commit themselves until we know the legislation," he was quoted as saying.
The proposed U.N. sanctions announced earlier result from Iran's refusal to suspend uranium enrichment, which the United States and its allies fear could be used to produce nuclear weapons. Iran insists it nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes.
Pakistan and Iran signed the pipeline deal last week. The proposed 560-mile-long pipeline project would connect Iran's giant South Fars gas field and Pakistan's Balochistan and Sindh provinces. The project is set to be completed by 2015 and calls for Pakistani imports of 750,000 cubic feet of gas per day for 25 years to be used for generating electricity. Pakistan expects to save $1 billion annually in energy costs under the deal.