ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday said Pakistan was committed to the early completion of Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project, considering it a new chapter in economic collaboration and greater regional integration with Central Asia.
In a one-on-one meeting with the President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhammadov here at the PM House, the prime minister said Pakistan was ready to provide any assistance to expedite the implementation process of TAPI and help minimize the project cost.
Sharif said Pakistan viewed TAPI not only as a gas pipeline project, but as a precursor to making it a trade and transit corridor as well.
He said such corridor could comprise gas pipeline, road, electricity transmission and fiber optic lines besides economic zones connecting Pakistan with Turkmenistan.
The prime minister said it was essential for the TAPI members to work strenuously for the implementation of the project at the earliest as it would help in integrating the four member states by linking energy-rich Turkmenistan with energy-starved South Asia.
Sharif said connectivity was the key to regional integration and the realization of full economic potential for Central Asia.
He suggested that Pakistan and Turkmenistan could be connected through railway corridor connecting Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Iran.
The premier welcomed Turkmenistan’s offer for export of 1000 mega watt electricity to Pakistan and signing of tripartite MoU during his visit to Turkmenistan last December.
He stressed the need for greater cooperation in the fields of trade, energy, agriculture, education, science and technology, infrastructure and transportation.
Sharif said Pakistan looked towards Turkmenistan for future energy security and offered Turkmenistan to take advantage of Pakistani ports for its exports and imports.
The prime minister said the bilateral trade of US$25.11 million needed to be increased and stressed the need for facilitating business visas and relaxing visa regime for the further promotion of economic relations.
Earlier, the Prime Minister Sharif and President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamadov led delegation-level talks of their respective sides.
The two sides also discussed prospects of cooperation in diverse fields including defence and security, counter-terrorism, education and science and technology.
The Pakistan side included Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Defence Minister Khwaja Asif, Commerce Minister Engineer Khurram Dastgir, Petroleum Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, PM’s Special Assistant on Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatemi, National Security Advisor Nasser Khan Janjua and Ambassador to Turkmenistan Dr Abdul Malik.
The Turkmen side included Foreign Minister Rashid Meredov, Deputy Chairman of the cabinet of ministers Yagshigeldi Kakayev and Minister of Finance Muhammetguly Muhammedov