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Kazakhstan: Iranian Pipeline Plan Could Be Dropped

Washington, 20 November 1997 (RFE/RL) - President Nursultan Nazarbayev says Kazakhstan would give up the idea of an oil pipeline through Iran if the United States is ready to finance an alternative by next fall.

Nazarbayev spoke to reporters yesterday as he concluded a three-day official visit in Washington. He is to travel on to the southwestern U.S. city of Houston, the home of a number of major U.S. oil and gas firms, for more talks on economic development.

The U.S. supports what it calls a multiple pipeline strategy for transporting the Caspian Sea oil, and favors construction of the main pipeline from Baku, Azerbaijan through Georgia and Turkey to the Mediterranean Sea. However, the U.S. opposes participation by Iran, which the U.S. regards as a nation that supports terrorism. The U.S. does not have diplomatic relations with Iran.

Nazarbayev said that his country would cease work on any other pipeline projects if the U.S. is ready to provide financial backing for other pipeline routes by the end of next October.

Nazarbayev called his Washington visit very successful. He said President Bill Clinton and other U.S. officials presented a "very clear line" aimed at preventing Iran from exploiting Central Asia's energy resources.