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Tuesday, 7 November, 2000, 14:43 GMT
Pakistan seeks Central Asia gas
Central Asia map
Pakistan is pressing for the construction of a pipeline that will give it access to Central Asia's vast energy reserves.

Military ruler General Pervez Musharraf, who is visiting the region, has met the leaders of Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan and urged them to consider the project.

We would like to be part of the arrangements for gas from Turkmenistan and eventually oil from Kazakhstan

Pakistan Foreign Minister Abdus Sattar
But the pipeline would have to pass through Afghanistan.

The former Soviet republics that make up Central Asia have been wary of the Taleban rulers of Afghanistan and their growing influence in the region.

General Musharraf made a brief halt in Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan, enroute to Kazakhstan, for talks with President Saparmurat Niyazov.

Trans-Afghan pipeline

Foreign Minister Abdus Sattar said the leaders discussed the 1,600 km gas pipeline project which is estimated to cost billions of dollars.

"We would like to be part of the arrangements for gas from Turkmenistan and eventually oil from Kazakhstan," Mr Sattar said.

He said the trans-Afghan route was the one preferred by the Pakistanis.

"But we have also considered the idea from Turkmenistan to Iran and then to Afghanistan and Pakistan. . . we have been exchanging very detailed information on the possibilities of the routes," Mr Sattar said.

Pakistan has been pressing the Central Asian republics to recognise that the Taleban are the dominant political force in Afghanistan.

"We have an interest in promoting peace and reconciliation in this country that can be a very important bridge between us," the foreign minister said.

Taleban 'supported'

In the Kazakh capital, Astana, Kazakhstan's prime minister said major parties should refrain from interfering in the situation in Afghanistan and give the conflicting parties an opportunity to come to an agreement.

Prime Minister Kasymzhomart Tokayev said he expected the Taleban to play a dominant role in a future Afghan government.

"All we want to see is a government which. . . can bring the country to peace and bring it into the international community as a fully fledged member," Pakistan's Dawn newspaper quoted Kazakhstan's Foreign Minister, Yerlan Idrisov, as saying.

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See also:

25 May 00 | South Asia
Taleban warns neighbours
19 Oct 00 | South Asia
Afghanistan 'threat' to central Asia
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