Saturday, 22 February 2003

PARTNERS INVITE INDIA TO JOIN US$3.2-BILLION NATURAL GAS PIPELINE PROJECT

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Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkmenistan on Saturday invited India to join their US$3.2-billion natural gas pipeline project, indicating the plan would not be economically viable without New Delhi\'s participation, officials said on Saturday. The offer to India came after talks in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, between Turkmenistan\'s Deputy Prime Minister Yully Qurbanmuradov, Afghan Petroleum and Mines Minister Juma Mohammad Mohammadi and Pakistan\'s Petroleum Minister Nauraiz Shakoor.
Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkmenistan on Saturday invited India to join their US$3.2-billion natural gas pipeline project, indicating the plan would not be economically viable without New Delhi\'s participation, officials said on Saturday. The offer to India came after talks in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, between Turkmenistan\'s Deputy Prime Minister Yully Qurbanmuradov, Afghan Petroleum and Mines Minister Juma Mohammad Mohammadi and Pakistan\'s Petroleum Minister Nauraiz Shakoor. \"Since the viability of the project depends on the extension of the pipeline to India, it was agreed ... (to) forward the documents of the TAP to the government of India, inviting them to join,\" they said in a joint statement, referring to the Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline. The 1,460-kilometer (910-mile) pipeline would transport natural gas from the Central Asian country of Turkmenistan through Afghanistan to Pakistan. It also would give cash-strapped Afghanistan US$300 million in annual fees and create 12,000 jobs in the country. \"We are convinced that the gas pipeline project is good for whole of the region,\" Qurbanmuradov said at a news conference after the talks. \"It will help create many jobs in Afghanistan ... The project is also good for Pakistan\'s economy.\" \"The project is also good for us,\" Qurbanmuradov said. Pakistan\'s bitter rival, India, is the main potential buyer of Turkmen gas, but so far has shown little interest in the project because of tense relations with Islamabad. New Delhi says its main concern is the pipeline through Pakistan won\'t be safe. Feuding tribes have attacked a major pipeline in Pakistan several times in recent months. The pipeline, which would carry up to 20 billion cubic meters (700 billion cubic feet) of gas a year, could easily be extended to India — but that seems unlikely while tension remains. It would tap into natural gas wells at Turkmenistan\'s huge Dauletabad-Donmez field, which holds more than 2.83 trillion cubic meters (100 trillion cubic feet) in gas reserves. (AP)
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The Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst is a biweekly publication of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Program, a Joint Transatlantic Research and Policy Center affiliated with the American Foreign Policy Council, Washington DC., and the Institute for Security and Development Policy, Stockholm. For 15 years, the Analyst has brought cutting edge analysis of the region geared toward a practitioner audience.

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