WASHINGTON - The United States on Wednesday reaffirmed its opposition to Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline project while President Asif Ali Zardari visited Tehran for talks with the top Iranian leadership, saying it was in Islamabad’s interest to avoid any activity that can hit it with sanctions.

Responding to a question at the daily press briefing, State Department Spokesman Patrick Ventrell said “(W)e provide and are providing the Pakistani government and people a better way to meet their energy needs in some of the assistance we’re providing.”

He added “We recognise that Pakistan has significant energy requirements but we really think there are other long-term solutions to Pakistan’s energy needs. And so we’ve been assisting as a government to contribute to the alleviation of the energy crisis in Pakistan.

“It’s in their best interests to avoid any sanctionable activity, and we think that we provide and are providing ... a better way to meet their energy needs in some of the assistance we’re providing.”

When specifically asked if the proposed Iran’s gas pipeline with Pakistan comes under the sanctionable items, Ventrell said “I’m not sure; I’m going to have to look into that. We look at all sanctionable activity closely. It’s hard for me to make a determination on that, but let me look into it.”

Online adds: Addressing the threats due to IEDs to American forces, the US has asked Pakistan to do more to stop the flow of calcium ammonium nitrate into Afghanistan.

“For us working to save the lives of our forces in Afghanistan by addressing the threats of IEDs has been and continues to be a critical priority for us in our discussions with Pakistan. We’ve been clear that Pakistan, both the government and industry, must do more to prevent the flow of calcium ammonium nitrate into Afghanistan,” Patrick Ventrell, the State Department spokesperson told reporters.

Acknowledging that there has been some greater cooperation between the US and Pakistan in this regard, he said and added this is something that the US has been working on for some time.

“We’d like to see some further concrete action,” Ventrell said.

“This has been a top priority for us. We’ve been clear that Pakistan must do more. We’ve seen some initial progress. It is something that’s really at the top of our agenda,” he said.

As we got our working groups back up and going as our relationship got back on track, one of the top things, one of the top working groups we got going again was this IED working group. So we’ve made some progress,” the spokesman said.