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Pakistan‚ US to boost cooperation in energy sector

Under the cloud of anger from the Pakistan government over a drone strike that killed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan chief hours before peace talks were due to start, Pakistan and US officials met in Washington to discuss how bilateral cooperation in various fields could be advanced during the the fifth Energy Working Group meeting.

Ambassador Carlos Pascual, US Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs, Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Minister for Water and Power Khawaja Muhammad Asif co-chaired the meeting.

Pakistan is seeking US cooperation in a host of areas including exploration of its shale gas reserves, materialisation of its coal-based projects and liquefied natural gas.

Pakistan is expecting financial assistance from US and other international financial institutions for the completion of Dasu and Diamer Bhasha Dam to meet its energy and water needs.

The US Ambassador in Islamabad Richard Olson, Charge de Affaires at the Pakistani embassy in Washington Asad M Khan, and senior officials from the two countries also attended the meeting.

Pakistan would also seek US cooperation in exploit its huge shale gas reserves. Pakistan’s shale gas reserves are estimated to be one of the largest in the world.

The two sides are also expected to discuss cooperation in alternate sources of energy. The Iran-Pakistan and Turkemnistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline projects for import of gas are also expected to come under discussion.

According to the State Department, the United States and Pakistan have been working closely to develop and diversify the Pakistan’s energy sector.

“The United States has supported increased energy generation, improved distribution, management, revenue collection, and policy reform. Since October 2009, the United States has helped add 1,000 megawatts of capacity to Pakistan’s grid “enough to supply electricity for more than 16 million people.”

The Strategic Dialogue framework was re-started after the pause of almost two years during the Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to Pakistan in August this year.

During Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s visit to Washington last month, the two countries reaffirmed their commitment to strengthening cooperation in five major areas under the strategic partnership.

At the conclusion of the Energy Group meeting, the Pakistani delegation would proceed to Houston for exploring cooperation with American investors in a series of meetings.

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