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Karzai off to Ashgabat for talks with Turkmen president

Karzai off to Ashgabat for talks with Turkmen president

May 28, 2011 - 15:39

KABULinfo-icon (PANinfo-icon): President Hamid Karzai flew on Saturday to Turkmenistan's capital Ashgabat on a two-day official visit for talks his Turkmen counterpart on issues of bilateral and regional importance, his office said.

Karzai will discuss with President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov the current situation in Afghanistaninfo-icon and the laying of a gas pipeline from Turkmenistan to Pakistaninfo-icon and India via Afghanistan.

The import of electricity from the energy-rich country will also figure at the talks, according to a statement from the Presidential Palace. The two sides are likely to sign documents on energy, transport and trade cooperation.

Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India signed an agreement in December on the 1,700-kilometer pipeline, with an annual gas flow capacity of 30 billion cubic meters and a rough cost of $4 billion.

Accompanied by his ministers of foreign affairs, finance, mines, commerce, public works and energy, several governors and national security advisor, Karzai will confer with the host president on his government's peace initiative.

Karzai's visit to Turkmenistan, which desires stability in Afghanistan, is important, according to a political science teacher at Kabul University. Najib Mahmood called for greater cooperative relations between the neighbours.

With good ties to Pakistan, where many Talibaninfo-icon leaders are allegedly hiding, Turkmenistan could play a significant role in promoting the reconciliation drive in Afghanistan, he believed.

From Ashgabat, Karzai will travel to Rome to meet the Italian prime minister. During the two-day trip, he will attend an event marking the 150th anniversary of Italian unification.


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