NEW DELHI, Jan. 22 (UPI) -- Indian President Pranab Mukherjee said Tuesday India looked to Turkmenistan to help ensure a reliable source of natural gas through a multilateral pipeline.
Mukherjee met Tuesday in New Delhi with Rashid Merdeov, deputy prime minister and foreign minister for Turkmenistan.
After the meeting, Mukherjee said the planned Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India natural gas pipeline could provide sweeping economic and geopolitical benefits to all parties.
"India is deficient in energy resources whereas Turkmenistan is rich in hydrocarbon resources," he was quoted by the Indo-Asian News Service as saying. "Our common endeavor should be to build enduring ties between our two friendly countries based on a long-term energy partnership."
Mukherjee added that India was committed to implementing the pipeline by 2017.
Turkmen officials in early 2012 agreed to sell natural gas to Asian customers through the 1,050-mile pipeline. TAPI could deliver more than 1 trillion cubic feet of Turkmen natural gas per year.
Turkmenistan has some of the richest deposits of natural gas in the world. U.S. officials have expressed their support for the project, seen as a rival to similar plans for a natural gas pipeline backed by the Iranian government.