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India to work with Turkmenistan to tackle extremism: Ansari

India today said it will continue to work for the development and stability of Central Asia even as it vowed to work with Turkmenistan to address the challenges of cross-border terrorism, fundamentalism and extremism faced by the resource-rich region.

Vice President Hamid Ansari, who arrived here yesterday to attend the ground-breaking ceremony of Turkmenistan- Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline, said the bond between the two nations has grown stronger in the contemporary times.

Addressing a conference here on neutrality to mark the the 20th anniversary of adoption of the status of ‘Permanent Neutrality’ by Turkmenistan, he said the Central Asian country’s commitment to permanent neutrality has remarkable similarities with the overall approach of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), the fundamental objective of the latter also being preservation of world peace and security.

Ansari said in the twenty years since adoption of a neutral status, Turkmenistan has remained committed to building harmonious relations with its neighbours and promote peace and security in the world.

“During the recent visit of our Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Turkmenistan, we reiterated our vision for a shared future. Tomorrow, we will flag-off the Turkmenistan- Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline, which we both recognise to be a ‘key pillar’ of our economic engagement and which is in consonance with the particular emphasis that Turkmenistan puts on the economic aspect of neutrality,” he said.

“India wishes the Turkmen people and government further success in their policy of neutrality as we work together to address the challenges of cross border terrorism, fundamentalism and extremism. We will be your true partners in your striving for regional and global peace and sustainable development.”

Recalling the historical links, he said most revered Turkmen poet Magtymguly Pyragy (Makhtumqoli Faraghi) yearned to visit India and his love for Indian people is reflected in his poems.

The event was attended by leaders of 20 nations, including Russia, Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Ansari said the idea of neutrality or its use as a political precept is not unknown to India.

The basic values that underline the policy of neutrality are of peace, non-violence and peaceful resolution of disputes.
“One of the cardinal principles of NAM was independence

from great powers or block politics and rivalries. This did not imply a passive role for the Movement in international politics but formulation of positions in an independent manner so as to reflect the interests of its members,” he said.

He said India remains committed to supporting our Turkmen friends in this endeavour by deepening our cooperation in strategic, economic, cultural, humanitarian, scientific and educational spheres.

In his address, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said his country seeks peace with all, especially the immediate neighbours. He said by developing projects like TAPI, Pakistan wants to connect Central Asia with South Asia.