Leaders Hail Gas Pipeline Project As Start Of Central-South Asia Corridor

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Pakistan's Prime Minister Abbasi also spoke at the event and echoed Ghani's words by saying that the project only had winners.

"We see Pakistan as the hub of connectivity in the region", the Prime Minister said, adding that CPEC was the most visible part of the Belt and Road Initiative and stressed on enhancement in bilateral cooperation between the two countries.

One of the boldest efforts to date to stabilize Afghanistan through economic development began Friday with a ceremonial start to construction on a $22.5 billion natural gas pipeline crossing the country's war-ravaged south.

The United States advocated the pipeline as a source of much-needed gas to all three countries over an alternative pipeline, which was also being negotiated, bringing gas from Iran through Pakistan and into India.

Prime Minister Abbasi will later proceed to Herat, Afghanistan to attend the second leg of the ground-breaking ceremony.

The Afghan president in his address said Afghanistan will leave no stone unturned to implement the project.

Earlier, a ceremony on completion of Turkmenistan section of TAPI pipeline project was held at Turkmen city of Serhetabad. However, there are indications that security of the project would not be a serious issue as Taliban spokesman too has given assurance to protect the pipeline because of its significance for Afghanistan.

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Afghanistan, which suffers from chronic energy shortages, is expected to take 5 billion cubic meters of gas itself, with the rest divided equally between Pakistan and India. He assured the Turkmen, Afghan and Indian leaders of Pakistan's full cooperation in making TAPI a success.

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi along with President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, his Afghan counterpart Ashraf Ghani and Minister of State for External Affairs of India M.J. Akbar attended the groundbreaking ceremony at the Turkmenistan border with Afghanistan.

In the year 2015, the participating countries chose to bring in their national oil companies (NOCs) (GAIL, India; Interstate Gas System, Pakistan; Afghan Gas Enterprise, Afghanistan; and TurkmenGaz, Turkmenistan), to form a joint venture named TAPI Pipeline Company Limited.

"This is a momentous occasion, we are turning TAPI into reality", said PM Abbasi.

The premier was received by Rasit Meredow, the Deputy Chairman of Cabinet of Ministers of Turkmenistan, at the Mary International Airport, as per a press release issued by the Prime Minister House.

Alongside TAPI, another project named the "Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan 500 kilovolts Line" (TAP-500) will transfer Turkmenistan's electricity to Pakistan through Afghanistan.

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