Turkmen call for UN pipeline pact

Pipeline call: from Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov

Turkmenistan's President Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov has asked the United Nations to adopt a new convention guaranteeing pipeline security, state media has reported.

The Caspian nation, which relies on Russia for most of its gas exports, is keen to diversify its export pipeline routes and is looking into a number of options, including a proposed pipeline via Afghanistan, long stalled due to security concerns.

Turkmen state media reported that Berdymukhamedov discussed the security idea with visiting president of UN General Assembly Srgjan Kerim yesterday.

"Turkmenistan is launching active discussions on a UN convention on international pipeline security," the state-owned Neutral Turkmenistan newspaper reported today.

It gave no further details of the proposal and did not say whether the UN agreed with it, a Reuters report said.

Military conflict in Afghanistan, which neighbours Turkmenistan, has long hampered efforts to embark on the pipeline designed to link up Turkmen gas with markets in India and Pakistan in a project estimated to cost up to $7 billion.

Turkmenistan sells about 50 billion cubic metres of natural gas to Russian gas monopoly Gazprom annually and plans to boost exports in future.

The West tentatively supports the Afghan route, but is actively lobbying for Turkmenistan to join another project - the Nabucco pipeline which is at the centre of Europe's plan to ease its dependence on Russia for gas supplies.


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