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Vice President Ansari to attend TAPI ground-breaking ceremony

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Mary (Turkmenistan), Dec. 13 : Vice President Mohammed Hamid Ansari would attend the ground-breaking ceremony of the ambitious USD 10 billion Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project on Sunday.

Vice President Ansari who is currently visiting Turkmenistan, will also speak at the ceremony along with the heads of delegations of the TAPI project.

The vice president and Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif welcomed the TAPI gas pipeline project, saying they saw it as a key pillar of economic engagement between South and Central Asia.

Vice President Ansari, who was addressing the International Neutrality Conference, said, “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.”

Pakistan Prime Minister Sharif said his country is aiming to promote energy and infrastructure projects, including the TAPI gas pipeline project.

Conceived in the 1990s, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan signed a framework agreement to implement the ambitious project after a meeting in Islamabad in 2002 and the preliminary feasibility studies were done by the Asian Development Bank (ADB). The Indian Government requested the ADB for joining the project as an official member in 2006. The project is expected to be completed by December 2018.

Despite the hopes and expectations, the project faces rising risks and added costs from the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan.

However, when asked about the prospective time of completion of the project owing to the security concerns in Pakistan and Afghanistan, Vice President Ansari said, “No, I don’t think so. The President (Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow) was confident. I had a good talk with him yesterday and he thinks it can be done. And I think it will be done.”

Calling it one of ‘those great ideas in regional cooperation about which we have dreamt of’, vice president Ansari said that he was very optimistic that after the ground breaking ceremony, things will begin to roll.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow would attend the ground-breaking ceremony which will be held near the city of Mary.

The ground-breaking ceremony would be followed by a lunch hosted by Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov.

Vice president Ansari is scheduled to return to India tonight. (ANI)