Islamabad: Pakistan on Thursday said it would explore the possibility of getting Russian funding for a multi-billion dollar gas pipeline project with Iran after a leading Chinese bank backed out of the venture over fears of sanctions imposed by Western countries.
"Pakistan's technical delegation will visit Moscow early next month to have discussions on this subject," Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit told a weekly news briefing in response to a question about funding for the Iran-Pakistan pipeline project.
The Pakistani team will hold talks with various officials and different companies, including Russian gas giant Gazprom, Basit said.
Pakistan was forced to look for alternative sources of funding after a consortium led by the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China failed to sign an agreement to provide financial advisory services for Pakistan's share of the 1.5-billion dollar project.
Sources said the consortium's decision was influenced by fears over sanctions imposed on Iran for its nuclear programme.
The US has asked Pakistan to abandon the project but Pakistani leaders, including President Asif Ali Zardari, have signalled that they intend to go ahead with the pipeline as it is vital for overcoming a crippling energy crisis.
Pakistan and Iran signed a deal in 2010 whereby Tehran will supply gas to Islamabad from 2014, with sales to reach 750 million cubic feet to one billion cubic feet a day by mid-2015.
Pakistan, which produces just 80 percent of its own electricity needs, is currently grappling with prolonged power cuts that have angered the public and affected industrial output.
In response to a separate question about the tension surrounding North Korea's nuclear programme Basit said Pakistan supports the six-party talks on the issue.
He hoped all sides would refrain from taking any action that undermines the dialogue process.
First Published: Thursday, March 29, 2012, 17:46