US gives ‘green signal’ to buy Russian oil, gas

ISLAMABAD             -          United States gave Pakistan a green signal to negotiate a petroleum and energy deal with Russia to overcome its pressure on oil and energy but on certain terms and conditions which Pakistan has already accepted.

A top official told The Nation yesterday that the Pakistani government took the US administration in advance on a possible deal between Pakistan and Russia on energy and petroleum, after which the United States said it has “no objection”. Credible sources said Pakistani Finance Minister Senator Ishaq Dar and later Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari took up the matter of acute energy shortage in Pakistan with US authorities during their separate visits to Washington last year and sought their waiver on possible deal between Islamabad and Moscow.

It may be recalled here that Ishaq Dar had conveyed to the US authorities during his visit that Pakistan’s energy import bill is soaring every day making it impossible for Pakistan authorities to buy such expensive oil from the Gulf.

Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto thrice visited the United States where he held meetings with US authorities including Secretary of State Antony Blinken in different times and discussed Pakistan’s energy and petroleum requirements and rising bill on the import of oil products from the Gulf markets.

In November last, the US embassy Islamabad had written a letter to Foreign Office in which all parameters and terms and conditions were given to Pakistan on which Islamabad could negotiate and buy the Russian oil.

Pakistan accepted the US terms and conditions which include that the price of Russian crude oil which Pakistan would buy would be 30 per cent less than the price of oil in the international market. Furthermore, all transitions made by Pakistan would be monitored in the United States.

The sources said Pakistan’s cooperation was also sought in different fields including security, intelligence sharing and counter terrorism which Pakistan had assured.

The federal cabinet has already given approval to ink agreements with Russia for the import of crude oil and Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG).

After approval and completing formalities from Moscow, the historic agreement would be signed soon, a source said. The Russian delegation and energy minister is in Islamabad till January 20.

The Russian delegation was sent on the directives of the Russian President and bilateral relations between the two countries are going upward trajectory.

Earlier, US State Department spokesperson Ned Price had told the media that Washington wanted to see Pakistan in an ‘economically sustainable’ position. The spokesperson was asked if the US was paying any attention to Pakistan after it had less than $5 billion left in its foreign exchange reserves or if it was planning to give debt relief to the country. Price maintained that this was a challenge the US was “attuned” to.

“I know that Pakistan has been working with the IMF, with international financial institutions. We want to see Pakistan in an economically sustainable position. Those conversations, as I understand it, are ongoing,” he said. He was also asked if the US on a government-to-government level gave any suggestions to Pakistan to take some immediate steps which could improve the economy.

“These conversations with our Pakistani partners often do entail technical issues. Oftentimes, these are addressed between the Department of the Treasury and our Pakistani partners,” Price stated.

He added that Pakistan’s macroeconomic stability was a topic of conversation between the Department of State and its counterparts, the White House, the Treasury Department, and others.

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