Pakistan's foreign minister says her country will pursue a gas pipeline project with Iran despite a U.S. warning.
Hina Rabbani Khar said on March 1 that the project was in the national interest of Pakistan, which is facing an energy crisis.
Addressing a House of Representatives subcommittee on February 29 in Washington, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned Pakistan that it could face "damaging" consequences if it goes forward with the project.
Clinton said the United States was encouraging Pakistan, which receives billions of dollars of annual aid from the United States, to seek alternatives -- such as a pipeline with Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, and India.
Local media revealed on February 29 that Pakistan had received a $250 million loan offer from Iran for the pipeline project.
Iran is subject to tough Western sanctions, including measures targeting its financial institutions, over Tehran's disputed nuclear program.
During the same testimony, Clinton also reiterated that U.S. policy is to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapons capability.
"I think it's absolutely clear that the president's policy is to prevent Iran from having nuclear weapons capability, and that has been the stated position of this administration," she said. "It has been backed up and reiterated. So let there be no confusion."
She also said sanctions against Iran "are affecting the thinking of the Iranians in the leadership, but we have to remain vigilant."
With Reuters and Indian media reports