ISLAMABAD - Dispelling the impression of US threat of sanctions on Pakistan over IP gas pipeline, US Deputy Chief of Mission Richard Hoagland on Wednesday said that the need for gas is legitimate demand of Pakistan and the US is ready to help the country.

‘The United States has never threatened Pakistan with sanctions, Iran-Pakistan project is not a matter going to be implemented within a week or a month. We are ready to work with Pakistan on different options to help’, he told the media at the sideline of a roundtable discussion to commemorate ‘the services of women in law-enforcement agencies’. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last week warned Pakistan of sanctions if it pursued the IP gas pipeline.

The State Department spokesperson later said that Clinton had not threatened Pakistan. Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani and Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar had rejected the threats, stating that Pakistan will not accept any pressure on the gas pipeline and relations with Iran. ‘Sanctions were invoked against Iran’, the US diplomat said, adding, that the US wants to help in resolving Pakistan’s energy crisis.

When asked if the US Ambassador in Islamabad has delivered any special message to Pakistan over NATO supply, Hoagland said: ‘I assure there was no message’.

Replying to a question about the US agreements with Pakistan and Washington demands for further five-year extension, the veteran diplomat did not directly reply to the question, but he said that the issue will be discussed during the upcoming visit to Pakistan by Gen. James Mattis. He said that dates for the visit of Gen Mattis have not yet been announced.

He said the issues will be discussed during Gen Mattis meeting with COAS General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.

On policy towards Afghanistan, the US diplomat said that in fact the US and Pakistan are on the same page.

Like Pakistan, his country is also supporting Afghan-led and Afghan-owned reconciliation process in Afghanistan, he added.