Turkmenistan determined to start construction oil pipeline to Pakistan
A delegation of Turkmenistan led by Foreign Minister Boris Shikhmuradov recently came to Islamabad on a one-day visit to discuss the bilateral economic relations and the Afghan settlement. The delegation met Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz and Minister of Oil and Natural Resources Nisar Ali Khan.
The visit aimed to boost the bilateral trade and economic relations and specify the joint projects in transport and gas and oil pipelines, Turkmen ambassador to Islamabad Sapar Berdniyazov told. The sides discussed prospects for the construction of the first phase of a pipeline to bring oil from the Turkmen field of Davletabad to the Pakistani town of Multan via Afghanistan. A related agreement was signed by Turkmenistan, Pakistan and several foreign companies in 1997 but postponed by the permanent combat operations in Afghanistan.
Turkmenistan's foreign minister said that the gas pipeline project from his country through Afghanistan was still
intact, despite the fighting and withdrawal of Unocal. Boris Shikhmuradov said the project was still a going concern
and that Pakistan remained very interested.
Unocal pulled out of the consortium trying to implement the scheme last year in the wake of U.S. cruise missile attacks against suspected training camps in Afghanistan of anti-U.S. Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden.
Unocal held a 46 % stake in the consortium trying to build the 1,400 km pipeline from Turkmenistan's huge Baultabad gas fields to Multan in southern Pakistan.
A Pakistani statement said the two countries "agreed on the urgency of restoring durable peace and stability" in
Afghanistan, which would "open up enormous possibilities of economic and commercial co-operation."
Pakistan is one of only three governments which recognise the Taliban, who control 90 % of Afghanistan, as the legitimate government of the country.
Turkmenistan is determined to start the construction of the oil pipeline in 1999, he added. In his opinion, the
project can be joined by Russia through the pipelines connecting the Tyumen north with Turkmenistan.
The ambassador confirmed a planned meeting of Boris Shikhmuradov with representatives of the Taliban leaders. The Taliban delegation which came to Islamabad is led by an adviser to Mullah Omar, the spiritual leader of the movement.