PM pitches for speeding up TAPI gas pipeline project

RSTV Bureau

Ashgabat: Prime Minister Narendra Modi meeting diplomats as Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov look on during the welcome ceremony at Independence Square, Aguzkhan Palace in Turkmenistan on July 11. Photo – PTI

Emphasizing on deep bilateral relations between the two countries, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow held talks on Saturday in the Turkmen capital city of Ashgabat. The Prime Minister is on a 8-day visit to Central Asia.

Among the crucial things, PM Modi pitched for an early implementation of the USD 10 billion TAPI gas pipeline project during his talks. The two sides also inked seven pacts to ramp up engagement in key areas, including defence.

The TAPI gas project is an over 1,800-km pipeline with design capacity to supply 3.2 billion cubic feet of natural gas per annum from Turkmenistan to Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. The pipeline is expected to be operational by 2018 and will carry gas from Turkmenistan’s Galkynysh field that holds gas reserves of 16 trillion cubic feet.

A joint statement called the TAPI project a “key pillar” of economic engagement between the two countries and said both the leaders recognised that its implementation would help the trade in significant way.

“I convey our interest in long-term investment in the energy sector in Turkmenistan,” the Prime Minister said.

PM Modi also emphasised the need for enhancing connectivity, calling it a key aspect of the relationship. He also proposed that Turkmenistan becomes part of International North South Transport Corridor.

President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow also agreed that PM Modi’s visit helped unite relations and define an outline for a greater partnership.

“The leaders reaffirmed their intention to work together in exploring alternative transport corridors for additional connectivity options between the two countries,” the joint statement said.

The joint statement said the two leaders also identified communications, information and technology, textile industry, chemical and pharmaceutical industry, construction and agro-processing as potential areas for cooperation.

During their comprehensive talks, both leaders resolved to step up efforts against cross-border threats of terrorism, organised crime and illegal drug-trafficking. The two also reaffirmed their commitment for a stable Afghanistan. In his address, PM Modi also insisted that India and Turkmenistan should together reinforce their fight against terrorism.

Identifying terrorism as a major threat, PM Modi said, “We have shared interest in a peaceful and stable Afghanistan and Central Asia. We have also common purpose in combating terrorism and extremism in our region”.

After talks between the two sides, a total of seven pacts were signed including an agreement on cooperation in the field of defence and another on tourism.

(With inputs from the PTI)