Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan has arrived in Moscow on a two-day, energy-focused official visit just as his hosts invaded Ukraine.
Khan is expected to push for the construction of a long-delayed, multi-billion-dollar gas pipeline to be built in collaboration with Russian companies, an official said.
The 1,100 km (683 mile)-long pipeline would deliver imported liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Karachi on the Arabian Sea coast to power plants in the northeastern province of Punjab.
“Both countries are eager to launch the project at the earliest,” Pakistan’s energy ministry spokesman said about the Pakistan Stream gas pipeline.
He confirmed that Energy Minister Hammad Azhar is accompanying Khan on the visit. The prime minister is expected to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday.
Also known as the North-South gas pipeline, the project was initially agreed to in 2015 and was to be financed by both Moscow and Islamabad, using a Russian company to construct it.
In an interview ahead of his trip, Khan had expressed concern about the situation in Ukraine and the possibility of new sanctions and their effect on Islamabad’s budding cooperation with Moscow.
“Yes, there is a global tension but our visit is of bilateral nature,” Pakistan’s national security adviser Moeed Yusuf told Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper.
The project is important for Pakistan – particularly the power sector – as the country’s dependence on imported LNG grows in the face of dwindling indigenous gas supplies. It has already suffered delays because of earlier sanctions.
- Reuters, with additional editing by George Russell