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Turkmenistan’s Deputy PM arrives in India to strengthen bilateral ties

New Delhi, Jan 21 (ANI): The Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Turkmenistan, Rashid Meredov, arrived here today for bilateral talks.

He is leading a delegation, which will participate in the 4th meeting of the India-Turkmenistan Inter-Governmental Joint Commission on Trade, Eco, Scientific and Technological Cooperation in New Delhi tomorrow.

The Turkmenistan leader will meet External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid and Petroleum Minister Veerappa Moily later today. Meredov will also call on President Pranab Mukherjee in the evening

India’s views Turkmenistan as a vital partner in India’s energy sector.

It was in 2012 that Turkmenistan agreed to supply natural gas to Pakistan and India in deals that offer major economic benefits but depend on building and defending a U.S.-backed pipeline across chronically unstable Afghanistan.

The Indian Government had last year allowed state-run gas-firm GAIL (India) Ltd to sign a gas purchase agreement with Turkmenistan’s national oil firm, for supplies from a planned multi-national pipeline.

The proposed 1,700-km (1,056-mile) Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India line (TAPI) will have a capacity to carry 90 million cubic metres a day (mcmd) gas for a 30-year period and will be operational in 2018, the government statement said.

The TAPI pipeline is estimated to cost about 10-12 billion dollars, while development of the gas field may cost about an additional 10 billion dollars.

The planned pipeline will help India and Pakistan diversify their gas supply, while Turkmenistan, a former Soviet republic, wants to triple annual gas exports to 180 billion cubic metres by 2030, looking beyond its traditional partner Russia to wider export markets.

Turkmenistan aims to supply natural gas from its Galkynysh field, better known by its previous name, South Iolotan, to Pakistan and India.

Turkmenistan is promoting TAPI as a key element in plans to boost annual gas exports to 180 billion cubic metres by 2030. (ANI)