Himalayan News Service

Washington, June 15:

The US is keen to work with India and Pakistan on the broader question of their energy needs if it helps them abandon the gas pipeline project with Iran, a state department spokesman said.

“We are prepared to work with both countries on the broader question of their energy needs and ensure prosperity,” Steve Pike, a state department spokesperson, said even as he reiterated Washington’s ‘serious concern’ about the gas pipeline.

Asked if the US would consider imposing economic sanctions against Pakistan and India, Pike said that was a ‘legal question’ and ‘out of my league’.

However, he pointed to the comments made by secretary of state Condoleezza Rice

during her March visit to India and Pakistan when she expressed US views against the pipeline because it involves Iran, a country the Bush administration considers a sponsor of terror.

Rice had spoken in terms of ‘legal and policy concerns’ arising out of the proposed gas pipeline. Asked to comment on a report in the Dawn newspaper in Pakistan which quoted Rice as telling visiting Pakistan foreign minister Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri that the pipeline was against US laws, Pike said a newspaper could not have known what happened in the meeting.