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Pakistani, US officials discuss cooperation at Energy Group meeting

As part of their Strategic Dialogue, Pakistan and US officials discussed advancing cooperation in a range of areas at the fifth Energy Working Group meeting here Tuesday. 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. 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 attended the meeting.

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

Islamabad has also decided to build both multi-billion dollars Dasu and Diamer-Bhasha dams as part of its endeavors to meeting the country’s exponential energy and water needs, and is expecting US and international financial institutions’ support towards their completion.

In addition, Pakistani officials will explore cooperation in getting US technology to exploit its huge reserves of shale gas, which are estimated to be one of the biggest 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 figure during deliberations.

According to the State Department, the United States and Pakistan have worked closely and on a sustained basis to better develop and diversify Pakistan’s energy sector, a key priority of the Pakistani government and people.

“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.”

After a hiatus of two years of strained ties, the Strategic Dialogue framework between the two countries was re-energized during Secretary of State John Kerry’s August visit to Pakistan.

During Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s visit to Washington for talks with President Obama 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 will proceed to Houston for exploring cooperation with American investors in a series of meetings.

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