Ashgabat, Islamabad secure gas ties

Nov. 14, 2011 at 11:56 AM
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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Nov. 14 (UPI) -- Turkmenistan and Pakistan are pursuing a shared vision of regional economic development by pushing ahead with a natural gas pipeline, Islamabad said.

Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov arrived Monday in Islamabad to meet his Pakistani counterpart Asif Ali Zardari. The Turkmen president during his meeting focused on expanding trade relationships and hastening the development of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India natural gas pipeline.

"We are pursuing the same vision, the same foresight, which led to Pakistan's desire for deeper and meaningful relations with Turkmenistan and other countries of the region," Zardari was quoted by the Associated Press of Pakistan as saying.

Berdimuhamedov, for his part, said a steering committee for TAPI was already in full swing and holding regular meetings. He said he appreciated the broad international support for the Asian Development Bank-backed project that would spawn "secure and stable energy carriers."

Both sides reached a draft deal last month that would increase plans by Ashgabat to deliver about 1.1 trillion cubic feet of gas each year through the pipeline by about 2 billion cf when it goes into service in the next few years.

Islamabad said the service date for the pipeline depends on the security situation in Afghanistan.

The project could strike a blow to rival plans from Iran to deliver natural gas to Pakistan from the giant South Pars field in the Persian Gulf.

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