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Afghanistan stresses need for cementing economic relations with Ashgabat

Afghanistan stresses need for cementing economic relations with Ashgabat

KABUL: President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani and his Turkmen counterpart have stressed the need for cementing economic relations between Kabul and Ashgabat, the Presidential Palace said here the other day.

Ghani on Wednesday flew to Ashgabat on a two-day visit to meet his Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov and other senior officials on enhanced economic, trade and cultural links.

A statement from the Presidential Palace said Berdymukhamedov, in a meeting with Ghani, hoped that bilateral trade volume between the two neighbours, which stood at $1 billion in 2014, would double this year.

Gas, oil and electricity are principal imports from Turkmenistan. The Turkmen president said his country wanted to increase energy exports to Afghanistan and was currently working on centre for exporting gas to Afghanistan.

A separate export centre for oil was also planned, he said, adding his country had always supported peace and stability in Afghanistan. Berdymukhamedov promised continued support for Afghan-led reconciliation

Berdymukhamedov, who said that Turkmenistan was ready to export 500 megawatts of power to Afghanistan, hinted at plans to construct maternity home in Torghondi district, an orphanage in Jawzjan and two mosques in Aqina and Andkhoi.

The Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project also came up for discussion at the meeting. Ghani said Afghanistan remained committed to supporting the long-delayed scheme.

The 1735-kilometre TAPI pipeline project will run from Dawlatabad through Herat and Kandahar provinces before entering Pakistan and ending in the Punjab province of India.

Afghanistan will earn $400,000 million in transit fee per year from the ambitious project, which is being funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

Ghani stressed a railway line between Afghanistan and Central Asian countries including China, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and Turkmenistan. He believed such a track would pave the ground for spurring regional trade.