Ashgabat, Turkmenistan: India and Turkmenistan on Saturday agreed to push for early implementation the ambitious TAPI gas pipeline project as Prime Minister Narendra Modi held talks with Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov.
The two sides inked seven agreements, including for cooperation in fertilizers and in defense.
Modi, who arrived in the Turkmen capital on Friday evening from Ufa in Russia, said in his media statement after Saturday's talks that the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline project was the “most significant initiative in our relationship.”
“This could transform regional economic cooperation and bring prosperity along the route. We welcomed the agreements between the four countries for the pipeline. We underlined the need to implement the project quickly," he added.
Modi said he proposed that both sides should explore multiple options, including the land-sea route through Iran, for transporting the gas.
The $10 billion TAPI project is expected to bring Turkmen natural gas from its giant Dauletabad and Galkynysh gas fields to Pakistan and India. The project is likely to be kicked off in December.
The joint statement said the TAPI project "forms a key pillar of economic engagement between the two countries" and its implementation will have "a transformational impact on trade between the two countries.”
Both sides decided to "take measures for early implementation of this important regional project.”
Modi also said he conveyed India's interest in long-term investment in the energy sector in Turkmenistan. ONGC Videsh Limited is to open an office in Ashgabat.
Stressing on connectivity, Modi expressed gratitude for Turkmenistan's support to India in joining the Ashgabat Agreement on trade and transit.
The Ashgabat Agreement is a transit agreement established in year 2011 between the countries of Uzbekistan, Iran, Turkmenistan and Oman. Kazakhstan has also joined the bloc.
Modi said he proposed that Turkmenistan join the International North South Transport Corridor project, which aims to connect Mumbai to St. Petersburg.
"Together with the Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan-Iran rail link, and India's proposed investment in Chahbahar Port in Iran, these initiatives will strengthen connectivity between our countries," he said.
Modi also inaugurated a traditional medicine and yoga center in the Turkmenistan capital and unveiled a bust of Mahatma Gandhi.
Turkmenistan was the fourth stop on Modi's tour of Central Asian countries. He has visited Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. He was in Ufa in Russia for the BRICS and SCO summits. He travels to Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan later.