Turkmenistan, Ashgabat, 6 July / Trend H. Hasanov /
There are a range of international oil companies who have expressed an interest in helping to develop the consortium that will help build the Turkemnistan-Afganistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert O. Blake said at press-conference in Ashgabat.
The transcript of his speech was published by the U.S. Embassy in Ashgabat.
"So I think those companies are now having discussions with the Government of Turkmenistan, and when those discussions are complete and decisions have been made, I'm sure the Government of Turkmenistan will communicate that," Blake noted.
A senior U.S. State Department representative also drew attention to the fact that trade ties between Turkmenistan and the United States have greatly increased.
"There has been a widening scope of cooperation between our countries in terms of business-to-business contacts. And as I said, our trade has expanded quite substantially, so we're very pleased with that and I think we have a similar record in countries like Kazakhstan," he said.
Blake also noted that each of the Central Asian countries in their own way, but particularly Turkmenistan, have taken important steps to build up regional infrastructure and to enhance their cooperation with Afghanistan.
"We think these steps collectively are having a positive impact in creating a more secure and stable and prosperous region. And to be sure there needs to be many more steps to lay the basis for real regional integration," the U.S. diplomat said.
According to him, there are multilateral development banks like the Asian
Development Bank, the Islamic Development Bank, the Aga Khan
Development Network, and many other institutions expending significant
resources of their own.
Many of the countries of the region now taking important steps to accede to the World Trade Organization. This will have a very important impact in creating a real opportunity for greater trade and investment in the
A question was raised at the press-conference about the planned withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.
"We will have troops in Afghanistan until the end of 2014. But what I did say is that we passed an important milestone in that Afghanistan now has the lead for security operations all over Afghanistan and NATO forces, including
American forces, are now in a support role in that regard," Blake said.
According to him, the United States and others are working very hard to train the Afghan National Security Forces.
"And we will continue to have a presence, even after 2014, to help with
counterterrorism and to continue the training process," Blake said.
He said that President Obama has not yet announced the exact level of troops to remain in Afghanistan after 2014.
"But he has said that we will remain committed to helping Afghanistan after 2014, because we do not want to squander the gains that have been made," Blake said.
The basic document for the promotion of TAPI project is the Ashgabat interstate agreement of the state parties on the commencement of the practical implementation of the TAPI project signed in late 2010. The instability in transit Afghanistan remains a serious obstacle, but Kabul said the country will ensure the safety of the route.In May 2012, the Turkmen government entered into an agreement for the sale of natural gas with India's GAIL Ltd. A memorandum of understanding was signed with Afghanistan.
Negotiations are currently underway on the formation of the consortium and the financial package. The Turkmen side conducted several international road shows for TAPI in September 2012 with the participation of the Asian Development Bank.
The design capacity of TAPI is 33 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year. The estimated length is 1,735 kilometres. It is expected that the pipeline will extend from the largest gas field in Turkmenistan, Galkhynysh, through the Afghan cities of Herat and Kandahar to the Fazilka settlement on the Pakistani-Indian border.
Official Ashgabat believes the construction of the pipeline in addition to purely economic problems will solve a number of important social and humanitarian issues in the region, including those associated with the creation of new jobs and building infrastructure along the gas main.