President Ashraf Ghani met with his Turkmenistan counterpart in Ashgabat on Saturday and discussed peace and stability in Afghanistan, bilateral cooperation on a number of fronts and other regional and global issues.
Ghani, who is on a two-day visit to Afghanistan’s northern neighbor will also inaugurate the TAPI gas line project while he is in the country.
Ghani thanked Turkmenistan for its support and cooperation with Afghanistan and said: “Turkmenistan is and continues to be a good and benevolent neighboring country of Afghanistan.”
He said Afghanistan is ready to ensure Turkmenistan’s gas transit through Afghanistan. “Besides transiting Turkmenistan’s gas to Pakistan and India, we hope to serve as a transit state for China as well”, he added.
Turkmen president, Gurbanguly Berdymuhamedov meanwhile said his country supports any efforts to maintain peace and security in Afghanistan, and ensured Ghani of Turkmenistan’s enduring cooperation with Afghanistan.
Speaking on the need for trade and economic relations between the two countries, the Turkmen president also expressed his readiness to increase the amount of electricity export to Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, Ghani expressed enthusiasm over linking Turkmenistan, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan via railway.
Ghani is accompanied by a high-ranking delegation of Afghan officials including a number of ministers.
Bilateral cooperation agreements were also signed at Saturday’s meeting.
The agreements signed included cooperation in the sectors of sport, power, and diplomacy.
Meanwhile, Pakistan’s Defence Minister Khawaja Asif has stated that Pakistan would talk to Afghan Taliban over the security of the TAPI gas pipeline – coming from Turkmenistan, Afghanistan to Pakistan and India.
Talking to BBC Urdu, Asif, who is also Minister for Water and Power, said the TAPI project is extremely important to overcome the energy crisis. He said Pakistan would use influence on Taliban if needed for the protection of this project so that security concerns could be redressed.
Asif said construction on TAPI project would start Sunday and that Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi will be in Turkmenistan for the occasion.
About 1700km of gas pipeline will be completed within two years at a cost of $10 billion USD.