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Construction begins on Afghan stretch of TAPI gas pipeline

WORK has started on the Afghanistan section of a US-backed pipeline that will transport natural gas from Turkmenistan through the country and also Pakistan and India.

The 1,140-mile TAPI pipeline is to carry 33 billion cubic metres of gas a year and will be an important new export outlet for Turkmenistan, whose economy centres on its vast natural gas reserves.

Workers at the Turkmen-Afghan border welded the first link crossing the frontier in a ceremony today, observed by video by the presidents of Turkmenistan and Afghanistan, Pakistan’s prime minister and India’s foreign minister.

The pipeline has been a long time coming, being first dreamt up in the 1990s as a way of transporting gas out of central Asia without passing through Russia or Iran.

The United States had for years pushed the pipeline in a bid to block a proposed Iran-India-Pakistan project, which began construction — without India — five years ago.

The US-backed BTC oil pipeline through Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey, which began operating 12 years ago, was also designed to skirt Iran.

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