Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf is pushing for the construction of gas and oil pipelines between his country and China to bolster bilateral ties, he said on Monday, during a visit that has highlighted security concerns.
"Pakistan is very much in favour of a pipeline between the Gulf and China through Pakistan, and I have been speaking about this with your leadership," Musharraf told a gathering of students and academics in Beijing.
Beijing has stood close to Musharraf, who came to power as a general in a coup in 1999, even as he has become increasingly vulnerable since the assasination of former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto and the defeat of Musharraf's allies in Feb. 18 polls.
The two countries have explored proposals to use Pakistan as a pipeline corridor, bringing oil and gas from the Middle East to China.
Musharraf told students and academics in Beijing that he had raised the idea, which has been mooted for several years, during talks with Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao.
He said a proposed gas pipeline between Iran and India through Pakistan could be expanded to include China.
Pakistan's proposals to become a main energy link for China have not moved much beyond vague talks, but Musharraf said they were "very much possible," even with the high-altitude border between the two nations.
"I'm very sure in the future that -- as Muslims say, 'Inshala' -- it will happen."
China relies on imported oil for nearly half its needs and is keen to diversify supply routes away from the traffic-choked and easily blockaded Malacca strait.
But Chinese industry sources have said in the past that security concerns in Pakistan make it very unlikely that the pipeline plans would take off.
Musharraf's six-day visit to China ending April 15 is his first trip abroad since a new government packed with opponents was sworn in late last month.
China is a big arms partner of its neighbour Pakistan, with each side long using the other as a counter-weight to India's influence.
Last Mod: 14 Nisan 2008, 12:45