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TAPI first step towards economically integrated Asia, says Vice President Ansari

Mary (Turkmenistan), Dec. 13 : Vice President M. Hamid Ansari on Sunday called the launch of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project the first step towards fulfilling the vision of an economically integrated region stretching from the Bay of Bengal to the Caspian Sea.

Vice President Ansari, who was speaking at the ground-breaking ceremony of the TAPI gas pipeline project in Mary, said that it was an honour for him to represent India at the “historic ground breaking ceremony’.

“This is indeed a momentous occasion. TAPI is much more than a gas pipeline project for our countries. It is a reflection of the common desire of the four member countries to re-connect ourselves. We are seeking to re-claim our shared geography and revitalise an age-old legacy of our mutually enriching interactions,” he said.

Recollecting the contribution of the historic Silk Route in connecting Asia, Vice President Ansari said that the time was right for an economically integrated South and Central Asia.

“The fact that we are doing so in the historic Silk Road city of Mary (Merv) is entirely appropriate. It was here, centuries ago, that caravans carrying goods paused to refresh themselves and thereby bestow on generations to come a colourful tapestry of mutually beneficial exchanges. It was here that our ideas and imaginations, spirituality and song, art and architecture met and mingled, and a shared history was written,” he said.

The Vice President however took into account the challenges that lay ahead of the launch of the TAPI project.

“Even as we celebrate the progress we have made on TAPI so far, we must be aware of the challenges that lie ahead. We must work together with resolve to ensure that negative forces inimical to the success of the project are addressed in an appropriate manner. In doing so, we must recognise that the forces of violence and disruption can no longer be allowed to threaten the quest for economic development and security of our people,” he said.

He was however confident that with the active engagement of all four governments, and the support of international partners, the challenges could be overcome.

“We also need to work together to ensure the technical and commercial viability of the project in its broadest sense. The international marketplace for energy works on complex principles. Often these are difficult to fathom. However, given the widespread poverty that exists in our countries, it is essential to ensure that we can make energy available at the least possible cost to the largest sections of our people,” he added.

India’s association with the TAPI project goes back almost a decade. It began as an Observer country at the 9th Steering Committee Meeting in 2006. In April 2008, India was formally admitted as a member of the project. Since then, India has been actively participating in all the meetings and has been an active votary of the project.

Recently, during the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Turkmenistan in July 2015, both the nations had reaffirmed strong commitment towards timely implementation of this strategic project for the common benefit of people of the four countries. (ANI)