Ashgabat, Islamabad hold high level talks over TAPI

Presidents of Turkmenistan and Pakistan, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov and Asif Ali Zardari discussed the draft of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project at a meeting in Ashgabat, Turkmen media reported on Friday.

Currently (March 21-22), Turkmenistan is holding celebrations on the occasion of the international Novruz holiday which is celebrated this year in Ashgabat with the participation of regional heads of state.

'The leaders of Turkmenistan and Pakistan have expressed mutual confidence that strategic and constructive cooperation will be a worthy continuation within large scale collaborative projects in the near future. The Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India gas pipeline was named as one such', Neutral Turkmenistan newspaper reported.

By all accounts the laying of the pipeline will not only serve the economic prosperity of participating countries, but also act as a powerful factor for peace and stability in the region, Turkmen Dovlet khabarlary said.

Earlier, foreign media reported that the Turkmen leader said recently in Ashgabat that implementation of the TAPI project is progressing according to plan. In his view its implementation is being undertaken in stages and current issues are being resolved.

It was emphasised that to date there are only two stages remaining. A recent meeting of the parties involved in the project in Bangkok (Thailand) decided to create a specialised company. The following step is to choose a leader for the consortium which will allow for, according to Berdymukhamedov, "bringing the project to life".

The basic document for the promotion of the TAPI project is the Ashgabat interstate agreement of the state parties on the commencement of the practical implementation of the TAPI project signed in late 2010. The instability in transit through Afghanistan remains a serious obstacle, but Kabul said the country will ensure the safety of the route.

In May 2012, the Turkmen government has entered into an agreement for the sale of natural gas with India's GAIL Ltd. A memorandum of understanding was signed with Afghanistan.
The design capacity of TAPI is 33 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year. The estimated length reaches 1735 kilometres. It is expected the pipeline will extend from the largest gas field in Turkmenistan 'Galkhynysh' through the Afghan cities of Herat and Kandagar to the Fazilka settlement on the Pakistani-Indian border.