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New step to Indian ocean
Ashkhabad considers that the Kabul meeting was a successful stage on the way to Transafghan gas pipeline project implementation, Kurbanazar Nazarov, Minister of Oil Gas Industry and Mineral Resources of Turkmenistan told journalists upon his arrival from Kabul where the 2nd session of the leading committee on implementation of the intergovernmental agreement on Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan gas pipeline construction project held on September 16-17.

The Minister reminded that the first session focused on organization issues determining the main provisions and principles of the leading committee was held on July 9-10 in Ashkhabad. Besides, the possibilities of international organizations' attraction for financing of the project and a number of issues linked with acceleration of the project development dynamics and decrease of terms for preparation of its contractual-legal base was discussed in Ashkhabad. Asian Development Bank (ADB) was unanimously elected to be the participant of the project, it was offered to contribute to rapid composition of technical-economic substation (TES) of the project bypassing the phase of its preliminary composition concerning TES financing and conduction of other investigations necessary for the project development.

After the Ashkhabad meeting ADB was completely involved in gas pipeline project and became its active supporter, Nazarov says. ADB made a decision to allot USD 1.5 mln grant. To compose the TES the US in concert with Turkmen, Afghan and Pakistani parties proceeded the preliminary preparation of list of companies, which are to make consultations on TES drawing up. In addition, as per the instruction of the parties, the intergovernmental agreement was developed. It is scheduled to be signed during the meeting of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan heads to be held in Ashkhabad in October 2002.

As to the Kabul session of the leading committee, it was another important step towards the successful implementation of the project on Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan gas pipeline construction. The sides exchanged opinions on a wide range of issues concerning acceleration of development process. In particular, documents, which are to provide legal basis for the project implementation, were discussed. The final version of the technical task for implementation of TES as well as its schedule was approved.

The sides considered the draft of the Intergovernmental agreement on gas pipeline, which is to be finally discussed during the third meeting of the leading committee to be held in Ashkhabad on October 17-18. A protocol reflecting the decisions and obligations of the sides was signed. Adoption of the schedule on accelerated implementation of the project offered by the Turkmen side and supported by colleagues was one of the main results of Kabul meeting. The essence of the proposal is in parallel implementation of the project phases, i.e. discussion of issues on creation of a consortium and preparation of legal base on project realization simultaneously with elaboration of TES.

Nazarov also informed that in accordance with the signed protocol on coordinated schedule of works ADB will present results on investigation of Indian and Pakistani markets by November 30 which will allow to sign contracts on Turkmen gas purchases and other necessary contracts in accordance with Islamabad agreement signed by heads of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Answering journalists' questions on mutual understanding of the three countries participating in the project, Kurbanazar Nazarov said that "the sides become closer after every meeting, the mutual understanding grows among them, and Kabul session demonstrated it visually. The project parties have business and pragmatic mood. As to nearest plans, according to the plan of works discussed by the leading committee and Asian Development Bank the sides will carry out a complex of preparatory measures including study of geopolitical and physical data concerning the project, estimation of economic and commercial aspects, selection of companies for consultations. Coordination and preparation for signing of intergovernmental agreement which is to regulate formation of the consortium, transit, purchase and sale of gas as well as construction and financing of gas pipeline are in the nearest plans also".

"Today we can surely state that the second meeting of the leading committee displayed considerable interest of all participant states in the accelerated fulfillment of the Transafghan pipeline project. The assurance in its realization is based upon the preliminary technical-economic estimates, upon great reserves of natural gas of Turkmenistan and the support from the part of the leaders of three countries - Saparmurat Niyazov, Hamid Karzay and Pervez Mousharraf", underlined Kurbanazar Niyazov, Minister of Oil Gas industry and Mineral Resources.

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Mohamed Shalliev

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