By Kamila Aliyeva
Turkmenistan and Afghanistan enter new level of relations as Ashgabat hosted the high-level talks between Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov and his Afghan counterpart Mohammad Ashraf Ghani on July 3.
Overall the top-level talks focused on the regional safety and bilateral cooperation.
Particular attention in this regard was paid to the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India gas pipeline. At present, construction work on Turkmenistan’s section of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline is underway.
TAPI will make it possible to deliver gas from Turkmenistan, which ranks fourth in the world for its gas reserves, to large and promising markets of South and Southeast Asia. The pipeline will run from Galkynysh - the largest gas field in Turkmenistan - through the Afghan cities of Herat and Kandahar, and finally reach the Fazilka settlement located near the India-Pakistan border.
Another important project that the presidents mulled was the railway from Turkmenistan to Afghanistan. Construction of the Atamyrat-Ymamnazar-Akina section of the Asian transnational line was completed last year.
Moreover, the leaders of Turkmenistan and Afghanistan underlined the possibility of increasing the volumes of the mutual trade
They noted that the trade and economic sphere is one of the priority areas of the bilateral cooperation. In 2016, the gross volume of the trade turnover between the two countries made up $547 million.
During the meeting, both leaders confirmed the commitment to peaceful regulations of all disputes and conflicts by political means, Turkmen Dovlet Habarlary reported.
They stated that cooperation in combat against international terrorism, extremism, illegal drugs trafficking, transboundary crime will be continued.
Stabilization of the situation inside the country is an important condition of rapid and efficient revival of the economy of Afghanistan, the Turkmen leader noted while talking to reporters after the talks.
In this regard, the necessity of realization of large infrastructural projects including in energy and transport with participation of Afghanistan was highlighted. First of all, this is the construction of Turkmenistan – Afghanistan – Pakistan – India gas pipeline, Turkmenistan – Afghanistan railroad with future extension to Tajikistan border.
Supply of Turkmen electrical energy to Afghanistan was an urgent subject of the negotiations. Joint works for expansion of energy line networks by construction of additional production powers in Afghanistan were discussed.
Taking into account new energy powers in Lebap and Mary Velayats, Turkmenistan will have an opportunity to increase the volumes of energy supplied to Afghanistan in several times as well as to supply it beyond the country borders to other states of the region.
The sides further agreed to take the efforts for expansion of the trade turnover and seek for new directions of cooperation in this sphere. Close cooperation will be continued in humanitarian sphere, science, culture, education and sport.
Number of bilateral documents was signed by the outcomes of Turkmen – Afghan high-level talks. Berdimuhamedov and Ghani have signed a joint statement.
Also, foreign policy departments of both countries adopted the Programme of cooperation for 2018 -2019. Memorandum of Understanding for cooperation in carpet industry, Agreement on International Road Transport and Agreement on International Railroad Checkpoint on Turkmen – Afghan border were signed on intergovernmental level. The Sides also signed the Regulation on Organization of Railroad Transport between Imamnazar and Akina Border Stations.
The Agreement on Cooperation between the Ministry of Energy of Turkmenistan and the Ministry of Energy and Water Management of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is related to the supply of Turkmen energy to Bagdis and Jauzdan Provinces of Afghanistan.
The Agreement on Cooperation in Scientific and Educational Sphere is signed between Magtumguly Turkmen State University and Jauzdan Province University.
Turkmenistan and Afghanistan follow the common strategic goals at the international arena. Among them are secure of peace, safety and sustainable development in Central Asia and on the planet. Both countries actively cooperate within the framework of the United Nations, the Non-Aligned Movement, the Islamic Cooperation Organization and the Economic Cooperation Organization.
The talks in Ashgabat confirmed the inviolability of the fraternal and good-neighbourly relations between the countries, readiness for the close economic cooperation, joint implementation of large-scale transport and energy projects.
Ashgabat will host the 7th Regional Economic Conference on Afghanistan on November 14-15, 2017. The negotiations on various aspects of the long-term regional economic cooperation will continue at the forum.
Kamila Aliyeva is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @Kami_Aliyeva
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