Pakistan said Thursday it would pursue a multi-billion dollar gas pipeline project with Iran despite US pressure as it is vital to overcome the country's energy crisis.
"Pakistan is pursuing important projects with Iran such as gas pipeline, electricity transmission and also building a more robust trade partnership between the two countries," Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said.
"All of these projects are in Pakistan's national interest and will be pursued and completed irrespective of any extraneous consideration."
Pakistan and Iran signed an export deal in 2010 under which Iran is to supply natural gas to its eastern neighbour from 2014, with sales to reach 750 million cubic feet (21 million cubic metres) to one billion cubic feet per day by mid-2015.
The $7.5 billion gas pipeline project has been trumpeted in Pakistan, which produces just 80 percent of the electricity it needs, as a partial answer to a crippling energy crisis which has led to debilitating blackouts and suffocated industry.
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US President Barack Obama last month unveiled new sanctions on Iran's central bank in an effort to force it to reverse course on its nuclear programme, and Washington has voiced strong objections to the pipeline project.
Pakistan says the 900-kilometre (560-mile) pipeline carrying gas from Iran's South Pars field is to be ready in 2014.
Brushing aside pressures, Khar said: "As far as bilateral relations and cooperation is concerned we don't make it contingent on views and policies of any third country.
"I think all our friends are encouraged to understand the real energy crisis that is in Pakistan. We can't afford to be selective of where we receive our energy supply from.
"Pakistan is going through a serious energy crisis and it is indeed in our national interest to pursue energy from wherever it comes."
Islamabad is moving towards a detente in its own relations with Washington, which took a drastic turn for the worse over last year's covert American raid that killed Osama bin Laden and air strikes that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.