Islamabad, Feb 12: China has expressed its willingness to join Pakistan and Iran in the proposed Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline if India backs out, a leading daily reported.
Daily Times quoted sources as saying that China has told Pakistan that it was interested in importing the additional gas if India did not join the project. Differences remain between India and Pakistan over transit fee for the pipeline and New Delhi rejected an offer to negotiate this month, saying it would proceed with talks after the February 18 elections in Pakistan. However, Pakistan and Iran may sign the agreement on February 24, a date proposed by Iran, signalling that even Tehran wanted to negotiate with an elected government in Islamabad, the sources said.
Pakistan plans to import 2.2 billion cubic feet of gas a day from Iran under the project, and has said it was willing to consume an additional 1.05 billion cubic feet if India did not join the project.
They said Iran had no objection to exporting gas to China. If China joined the project, the pipeline might pass through Gilgit, they said, where Pakistan has already approved a project to widen the Karakoram Highway. Pakistan also plans to extend a railway track to China to connect it to the Gwadar port. Chinese experts would visit Pakistan to finalise the route of the pipeline if it joined the project, the sources added.