US wants to help Pakistan on energy, but not nuclear
ISLAMABAD, Mar 13 (Reuters) Barring nuclear power, or a gas pipeline from Iran, the United States wants to help its ally Pakistan develop potential energy sources, US Energy Secretary Mr Samuel W Bodman said today.
Sent to Pakistan by President George W Bush to discuss what can be done to cover its future needs, Bodman listed everything from coal, and gas pipelines,-except from Iran,-to renewable sources such cellulose-based ethanol and wind or solar energy.
''I've just listed a long list of potential sources of energy that this country would have an interest in, should have, apparently does have an interest in, and that's what I came prepared to talk about,'' Bodman told journalists.
''And the field of cooperation with respect to civil nuclear work is not on the list.'' When he was in Islamabad on March 4, Bush told President Pervez Musharraf it was too soon to talk of Pakistan getting a similar deal to one given India, granting access to US know-how for its civilian nuclear programme.
The United States harbours reservations about Pakistan's record on proliferation, as its top scientist, Abdul Qadeer Khan, has admitted selling nuclear parts to, among others, Iran.
Pakistan has not let US investigators question Khan, who has been under house arrest for over two years.
Mr Bodman's visit to Islamabad came as Indian and Pakistani energy officials gathered in Tehran to discuss a 7 billion dollar gas pipeline project from Iran to India, via Pakistan.
The White House last week poured cold water on the project due to concerns about Iran's nuclear ambitions, and Mr Bodman said there was no way the United States would encourage any country seeking a contractual agreement with Iran.
Instead he said Pakistan should quickly pursue alternative potential gas pipeline projects with Turkmenistan and Qatar.
Mr Bodman met Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz and Foreign Minister Khursheed Mehmood Kasuri at the start of a week-long trip that will also take him to Russia, Hungary and Kazakhstan.
He described his visit as as an example of the priority the United States gave to its strategic relationship with Pakistan.
The keystone of the US-Pakistani relationship remains a common war on terrorism, including against militant groups once covertly supported by the Pakistani military.
DEPENDS ON PRIVATE SECTOR Mr Bodman said he discussed what needed to be done to improve Pakistan as a destination for investment in its infrastructure, while adding that his department had no budget to help Pakistan.
''This is an effort that will have to be led by the private sector, the private sector here in Pakistan as well as the private sector in our country,'' Mr Bodman said.
Mr Bodman declined to comment on China's involvement in Pakistan's civil nuclear programme. China, a traditional ally of Pakistan, is building Pakistan's third nuclear plant.
Based on expectations that the economy will average annual growth of seven percent, Pakistan's Petroleum Ministry has projected major shortages of oil and gas, amounting to 20 million tonnes or oil equivalent by 2010, and 100 million by 2025.
To add to Pakistan's problems, the military has been struggling to contain is an insurgency by provincial separatists in Baluchistan, home to the bulk of the country's gas reserves.
The bill for oil imports is expected to cross 6 billion dollars this fiscal year to June 30, against 4.4 billion dollar in fiscal 2004/2005.
REUTERS SB RK1910