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    Turkmenistan to increase power export to Afghanistan

    KABUL (PAN): Turkmenistan has agreed to considerably increase the export of electricity to Afghanistan, the Presidential Palace in Kabul said on Sunday.

    Currently on a visit to the neighbouring country, President Hamid Karzai signed four agreements with his Turkmen counterpart, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov.

    The agreements envisage power, railway, cultural and trade cooperation. The Turkmen president said his country wanted a stable and prosperous Afghanistan.

    Since Turkmenistan had vast gas and fuel reserves, it could play an effective role in the development of the landlocked country, Berdimuhamedovsaid.

    The Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline served as an example of this role, he said, adding the project would create jobs for Afghans.

    Pointing to the 150 kilometre railway line, which connects Turkmenistan with the capital city of Faryab, he said the track would boost Afghanistan's war-crippled economy.

    In addition to a five-fold increase in export of electricity to Afghanistan, Turkmenistan will also provide scholarships for Afghan students.  Afghanistan imports 70 megawatts of electricity from the neighbouring country.

    Karzai asked Turkmenistan and other neighbouring countries to cooperate with Afghanistan in the security transition from NATO soldiers to Afghan forces by 2014.

    About the strategic cooperation agreement between Afghanistan and the US, Karzai said: "We once again ensure Turkmenistan and other neighbours that the pact will pose no threat to them."

    Accompanied by his ministers of foreign affairs, finance, mines, commerce, public works and energy, several governors and national security advisor, 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.

    frm/mud