Pakistan to ask for nuclear cooperation at talks with US
* Pakistan-US dialogue starts in Washington tomorrow
By Fida Hussain
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan will seek closer nuclear energy cooperation with the United States as the two countries hold a crucial dialogue on energy collaboration in Washington on June 26.
Asked if Pakistan would raise the issue of nuclear cooperation at the meeting, Foreign Office spokeswoman Tasneem Aslam said: “We have a well-known position and will make our point once again.”
An inter-ministerial delegation led by Mukhtar Ahmad, advisor to the prime minister on energy, will represent Pakistan at the talks and has already left for the US, said a senior government official. Department of Energy Assistant Secretary Karen Herbert will lead the US side at the dialogue.
The Pakistan delegation will also hold discussions with other officials of the Department of Energy, and visit US laboratories and facilities outside Washington. It will also meet with representatives of the private sector to discuss ways to promote bilateral cooperation in the field of energy, said a statement issued by the FO.
The Pakistan delegation includes officials from the ministries of water and power, petroleum and natural resources, finance and foreign affairs.
An official said Islamabad wanted the US to treat Pakistan and India equally. Pakistan wants a deal with the US for nuclear energy cooperation similar to the US-India nuclear deal signed in March this year. Being a frontline state in the US war on terror, Pakistan should be treated better than the way Washington treated New Delhi in the recent past, the official said.
Some Pakistani experts say Pakistan needs cooperation from the US public and private sectors in the nuclear, power and gas sectors as help in just one sector will not be sufficient for Pakistan’s growing economy.
The delegation will give a detailed briefing to the US authorities about the proposed transnational gas pipeline projects is involved in, including the Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) pipeline, the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan (TAP) pipeline, and power transmission lines from Central Asia.
Pakistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, at a recently held Central Asia-South Asia Electricity Trade Conference in Islamabad, agreed on a transmission line to bring power from Central Asia to Pakistan via Afghanistan.
The US-Pakistan dialogue is expected to give special attention to the IPI project as the US is still pressing Pakistan and India to abandon the $7 billion project with Tehran. However, both Pakistan and India need natural gas to power their growing industrial sectors.