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Vice President Ansari lays wreath at Monument of Neutrality

India's Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari smiles before a meeting with Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen at the Prime Minister's office in Phnom Penh September 16, 2015. REUTERS/Samrang Pring

Ashgabat: Vice President Mohammed Hamid Ansari, who is currently on a three-day visit of Turkmenistan, today attended the wreath laying ceremony at the Monument of Neutrality along with the leaders of various Asian states.

The ceremony was followed by a reception hosted by Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow.

The Monument of Neutrality, initially named as the Arch of Neutrality, is a symbol of the permanent neutrality of Turkmenistan.

On December 12, 1995 Turkmenistan was granted the status of ‘permanent neutrality’ by the United Nations. This year, the Central Asian state marks the 20th anniversary of the official designation.

The height of the Monument is 95 meters, including the 12-meter gold-plated statue of the first president of Turkmenistan, Saparmurat Niyazov, established on its top which rotates face the sun at all times.

Vice President Ansari will later in the day attend the inauguration of the International Conference on ‘Policy of Neutrality: International Cooperation in the name of Peace, Security and Development’.

In Ashgabat, the Vice President will also pay his respects before a bust of Mahatma Gandhi that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had unveiled during his visit to the Central Asian nation in July this year.

The TAPI pipeline ground-breaking ceremony will be held on Sunday, near the city of Mary.

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 Vice President is also expected to meet Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani during the trip. (ANI)