Afghan and Turkmen leaders discuss trans-Afghan natural gas pipeline

Jul 05, 2007 02:00 AM

The leaders of Turkmenistan and Afghanistan discussed prospects for a pipeline that would carry natural gas from energy-rich Turkmenistan to Pakistan and India via Afghanistan.
Reaching out to Turkmenistan's violence-plagued southern neighbour in talks with his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai, new President Gurbanguli Berdymukhamedov also promised to provide Afghanistan with electric power worth $ 300,000 (EUR 220,000) at no cost.

"This is a big gift from the Turkmen people to the Afghan people," Berdymukhamedov, who came to power after the December death of autocratic long-time leader Saparmurat Niyazov, told after the talks.
Karzai said the discussions focused on a potential trans-Afghan gas pipeline -- an idea raised more than a decade ago, but stymied by violence and political instability in Afghanistan. Turkmenistan, Central Asia's largest gas producer, now depends on Russian lines for its exports.

"Afghanistan is interested in receiving income from the transit of Turkmen gas to Pakistan and India," Karzai said. Speaking through an interpreter, he said that "one of the main conditions of the project" is the issue of how much money Afghanistan would make for the transit of gas.
"We are not taking this project off the agenda," Berdymukhamedov said of the pipeline. "We will work together to resolve this issue," he said.

Karzai said Berdymukhamedov proposed building a railroad linking the two countries, calling it "very interesting" and saying the Afghan government will consider it. He said he would discuss the pipeline and railroad projects with the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank.
Karzai attended Berdymukhamedov's February inauguration and won a deal scrapping $ 3.8 mm (EUR 2.8 mm) debt for electric power. According to the Turkmen Energy Ministry, Afghanistan is to buy 287 mm kWh of electricity from Turkmenistan for $ 5.74 mm (EUR 4.2 mm) this year.

Karzai said Afghanistan wants to boost trade with Turkmenistan.
Their economics ministers signed agreements governing trade ties and cargo transit.

Source: Kazakh Today
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