PM inaugurates TAPI gas pipeline project in Turkmenistan

By AFP

nawaz sharif.JPGMARY, TURKMENISTAN: Leaders of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India broke ground Sunday on a $10 billion gas pipeline expected to help ease energy deficits in South Asia and stem tensions in the divided region.

Presidents Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov of Turkmenistan and Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan attended the ceremony in the Karakum desert outside the southeastern Turkmen city of Mary, marking the beginning of work on the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) link.

They were joined by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Indian Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari.

“Today we were participants and witnesses of a historic event. Today marks the start of a project of great scale – the TAPI pipeline,” said Berdymukhamedov during the ceremony, which took place in a pavilion imitating a traditional Turkmen nomadic dwelling.

Turkmenistan has said it expects the gas link with an annual capacity of 33 billion cubic metres to be completed by the end of 2018.

Afghanistan, India and Pakistan have all repeatedly stated their commitment to the natural gas project despite the bilateral tensions Delhi and Kabul have with Islamabad.

On Sunday, the leaders praised the pipeline as a political project that will help bring about better relations in the volatile region.

“The TAPI gas pipeline project will help promote peace and trade amongst the regional countries,” said PM Nawaz.

The Indian vice president said TAPI was “more than a project” and described it as “the first step to the unification of the region”, in translated remarks.

Afghanistan’s Ghani, for his part, said the project demonstrated the countries’ political will.

“We are committed to the stable development of the entire region which will develop in an active and stable manner if we cooperate,” he said in translated remarks.

“Today we were participants and witnesses of a historic event. Today marks the start of a project of great scale – the TAPI pipeline,” said Berdymukhamedov during the ceremony, which took place in a pavilion imitating a traditional Turkmen nomadic dwelling.

Turkmenistan has said it expects the gas link with an annual capacity of 33 billion cubic metres to be completed by the end of 2018.

Afghanistan, India and Pakistan have all repeatedly stated their commitment to the natural gas project despite the bilateral tensions Delhi and Kabul have with Islamabad.

On Sunday, the leaders praised the pipeline as a political project that will help bring about better relations in the volatile region.

“The TAPI gas pipeline project will help promote peace and trade amongst the regional countries,” said PM Nawaz.

The Indian vice president said TAPI was “more than a project” and described it as “the first step to the unification of the region”, in translated remarks.

Afghanistan’s Ghani, for his part, said the project demonstrated the countries’ political will.

“We are committed to the stable development of the entire region which will develop in an active and stable manner if we cooperate,” he said in translated remarks.

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