India, Turkmenistan to realize gas pipeline project

New Delhi, Jan 22 (IANS) India and Turkmenistan Tuesday agreed to take necessary steps for early realization of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project and also reviewed the progress of their bilateral ties in energy, trade, economic cooperation and other fields.

Turkmenistan Foreign Minister Rashid Meredov led a high-level delegation comprising chairman of Turkmengaz, deputy minister of trade, and senior officials to New Delhi for the Fourth Meeting of India-Turkmenistan Inter-Governmental Commission (IGC) on Trade, Economic, Scientific & Technological Cooperation Jan 21-22.

Meredov was hosted by Indian co-chair and Minister of State for External Affairs E. Ahamed, a statement said.

The TAPI project was in focus during the meeting and it was noted that it has made significant progress since the visit of President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov to India in May 2010. Both sides agreed to take necessary steps for early realization of the project, it said.

Both sides also noted the significant increase in trade. Bilateral trade from India has recorded 67 percent growth and had risen to $60 million. The Turkmen side statistics showed trade has increased three times in 2012 as compared to 2011.

The Turkmen side was keen to start flight services from Ashgabat to Goa to increase tourism and people to people links.

Ahamed raised the issue of difficulties being faced by Indian nationals in renewal of their work permits and Turkmenistan side agreed to look into the matter sympathetically, the statement said.

The commission agreed to form a Joint Working Group on Trade & Economic Cooperation which was tasked to meet early and discuss the measures to increase the bilateral trade and identify new areas of cooperation.

The next meeting of the IGC would be held in Ashgabat in 2014 on a mutually convenient date.