WASHINGTON, Sept. 22 (UPI) -- The U.S. government expressed its desire to see Turkmenistan emerge as a leader in terms of energy security and energy supply, officials say.
Robert Blake, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for the South and Central Asia bureau, briefed reporters on a bilateral meeting between U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov.
"On the energy front, the secretary said that we want to see Turkmenistan really be a leader in terms of energy security and energy supply," said Blake.
He added that Turkmenistan had an "important role to play" in the development of the $10.3 billion Nabucco pipeline for Europe.
A January gas row between Kiev and Moscow exposed gaps in the regional energy transport sector. Europe aims to diversify its gas transport options through Nabucco.
Nabucco is designed to have the capacity to move 1.1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas each year to European customers from Caspian and Middle Eastern suppliers. The pipeline would run from the Caspian region through Turkey to Austria along a route through Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary.
Despite political backing for the project, it lacks firm commitments from potential gas suppliers.
Reinhard Mitschek, managing director of the Nabucco international consortium, however, said supply options were diverse.
"We see Azerbaijan, Iraq and Turkmenistan as the first suppliers," he told an Azeri press service. "Other options will also be considered in the future."