Pipeline gas supplies to Pakistan are possible: Russia’s Putin

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Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that pipeline gas supplies to Pakistan were possible and part of the infrastructure was already in place, Russian state-owned new agency RIA reported.

Putin and Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif met on Thursday on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Samarkand, in Uzbekistan.

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“The prime minister reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to work closely with Russia to further expand and strengthen cooperation between the two countries across all areas of mutual benefit including food security, trade & investment, energy, defense and security,” a statement from Sharif’s office said.

The two sides agreed to convene the next meeting of the Inter-Governmental Commission (IGC) in Islamabad at an early date, it said.

The long-delayed gas pipeline vital to the south Asian country’s economy - the Pakistan Stream gas project, also known as the North-South gas pipeline - is to be built in collaboration with Russian companies.

The two countries agreed in 2015 to build a 1,100 km (683 mile)-long pipeline to deliver imported liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Karachi on the Arabian Sea coast to power plants in the northeastern province of Punjab.

The pipeline’s designed annual capacity stands at 12.4 billion cubic meters (bcm), with the possibility to be increased to 16 bcm.

The project, due to be launched in 2020, was delayed after Russian had to replace the initial participant, which was hit by Western sanctions.

Sharif has said in recent weeks that his government was also interested in buying wheat from Russia if it was offered at better rates.

His predecessor, Imran Khan, visited Moscow in February, the day Russia invaded Ukraine. Khan alleged the visit angered the United States, which he later accused of conspiring to topple his government. Washington denies the allegation.

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