Pakistan, Turkmenistan sign accord to curb terror financing

Islamabad, March 16 (IANS) Pakistan and Turkmenistan on Wednesday signed agreements including one on financial intelligence to curb money laundering and terrorism financing, officials said.

The visiting president of Turkmenistan, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif witnessed the signing ceremony in Islamabad, after the two leaders agreed to boost cooperation in various fields.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for cooperation in exchange of financial intelligence related to money laundering and terrorism financing was inked by Pakistani Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and his Turkmenistan counterpart Muhammetguly Muhammedov, a Radio Pakistan report said.

Other agreements related to cooperation in the field of energy, the Programme of Cooperation between the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, as well as MoUs on cooperation in areas of information technology, education and research.

Speaking at a joint press conference, Nawaz Sharif said Pakistan was committed to the early completion of the multi-billion dollar Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project that will open a new chapter in economic collaboration and greater regional integration with Central Asia.

“Pakistan is ready to provide any assistance to expedite the implementation process of TAPI and help minimize the project cost,” he said, adding Pakistan views TAPI not only as a gas pipeline project, but as a precursor to making it a trade and transit corridor as well.

“Such corridor could comprise gas pipeline, road, electricity transmission and fiber optic lines besides economic zones connecting Pakistan with Turkmenistan,” said the prime minister.

He suggested that Pakistan and Turkmenistan could be connected through a railway corridor connecting Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Iran.

Sharif welcomed Turkmenistan’s offer for export of 1,000 mega watt electricity to Pakistan and signing of tripartite MoU during his visit to Turkmenistan last December.

He stressed the need for greater cooperation in the fields of trade, energy, agriculture, education, science and technology, infrastructure and transportation. He said Pakistan looked towards Turkmenistan for future energy security and asked Turkmenistan to take advantage of Pakistani ports for its exports and imports.

On terrorism, he said Pakistan shares the concern that terrorism and extremism were the root cause of insecurity and instability in the region.

“This menace also undermines our endeavours for socio-economic development. We have to work collectively to eradicate the scourge of terrorism and extremism,” he said.

The Turkmenistan president said both the countries are facing common challenges and “combating common threats is our goal.”

He said the early completion of the TAPI gas pipeline project would not only solidify the relations between all the participating countries, but also create new opportunities.

“The gas line would bring warmth and cordiality, and generate economic activity, create job opportunities and improve the living standards,” President Berdimuhamedov said.

He said the TAPI pipeline had a great impetus to boost socio-economic cooperation and hoped the project would be implemented soon.

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