Monday, April 09, 2012 -
A senior Afghan official is dispelling rumors that Afghanistan is opting out of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline proposal, local news agencies reported Monday.
Earlier reports by Pakistan’s media outlets suggested that Afghanistan had lost interest in helping construct $7.6 billion the Turkmenistan-Afghan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline project.
Project planners envisage the 1,056-mile natural gas pipeline as transporting natural gas from the Dauletabad field in Turkmenistan, one of the world's largest, to the three recipient countries.
Afghan Minister for Mines Wahidullah Shahrani said he had “productive talks” with the Turkmen government on April 4 and indicated his readiness to proceed with the project, the Pakistan Observer reported on Monday.
The next step is a four-country meeting in Ashgabat on May 24 to advance the project with a representative of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), which is putting up financing.
“It will be the last meeting on finalizing TAPI documents and it will decide the fate of the project,” the news agency reported an Afghan official as saying on Friday.
An Afghan government source in Kabul said the Pakistani government is the main hurdle to the project’s completion, the Afghan newspaper Khaama reported on Sunday.
The source said that Islamabad wants Kabul and the United States to fulfill several conditions for it to continue with TAPI, according to Khaama.com.
The conditions are related to political tensions between Washington, Iran, and Pakistan. Islamabad wants long-term financial support from Washington.
A spokesman for the Afghan ministry of trade and commerce denied the claims, Khaama.com noted.