President Ashraf Ghani and his Turkmenistan counterpart Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow on Thursday signed a “Strategic Partnership Agreement” in Ashgabat where both countries pledged to expand bilateral relations on a number of key areas including economy, trade, transit and joint efforts towards fighting terrorism.
The two countries also signed seven Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) on cultural exchanges between Turkmenistan Academy of Science and National Archive of Afghanistan, railway project, aviation, customs, petroleum, gas and energy transfer.
According to a statement by the Presidential Palace (ARG), the signing of Afghanistan-Turkmenistan Strategic Partnership Agreement will help the two countries to further expand their political, economic and security cooperation.
Ghani meanwhile said that the Strategic Partnership Agreement is a milestone and will increase relations between the two nations.
“In line with this agreement, relations between the two countries will remain sustainable and based on mutual respect and mutual interests,” Ghani said.
In addition, president Berdimuhamedow said his country strongly supports the resolution of the conflict in Afghanistan through diplomatic means and that Turkmenistan is ready to cooperate with Afghanistan in this regard.
Ghani said terrorism is a serious problem in the region and the world and there is a need for cooperation and coordination to tackle the issue.
Currently, Afghanistan and Turkmenistan are cooperating on a number of areas including energy and commerce and over the Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India (TAPI) natural gas pipeline project.
The Turkmen leader has said that the implementation of TAPI project will create over 12,000 jobs in Afghanistan and that the country will gain $1 billion in benefits from the project annually.
All You Need to Know About TAPI
TAPI project was inaugurated by leaders of the four countries - Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India - in January 2016.
The 1,814-kilometer gas pipeline from Turkmenistan will pass through Afghanistan to Pakistan and India. At least 816 kilometers of the pipeline will cross Afghanistan.
The pipeline will run through Herat, Farah, Nimroz, Helmand and Kandahar provinces and will be built alongside the Kandahar–Herat Highway in western Afghanistan. From it will go to Quetta and Multan in Pakistan.
The final destination of the pipeline will be the Indian town of Fazilka, near its border with Pakistan.
The project will cost $22.5 billion.
The project is implemented by the TAPI Limited Company – a group of firms from Afghanistan and Turkmenistan including Afghan Gas Enterprise, Turkmen Gas State Company, and two private companies from Afghanistan.
Afghanistan’s Share From TAPI
Afghanistan is expected to earn more than $400 million USD in transit duties annually from the project.
According to President Ashraf Ghani’s Office, the project will create thousands of job opportunities for Afghans.
Afghanistan will annually get 500 million cubic meters of gas from the project in the first ten years. The amount will increase to one billion cubic meters of gas in the following ten years and 1.5 billion cubic meters of gas in the next 10 years after the completion of the project.
Berdimuhamedow said that Turkmenistan will host a meeting of Lapis Lazuli transport ministers conference later in May this year.