Vice President Ansari departs for Turkmenistan

By Amit Shankar

New Delhi, Dec. 11 (ANI): Vice President Hamid Ansari left on a three-day visit to Turkmenistan on Friday to attend the much delayed TAPI gas pipeline ground-breaking ceremony.

During his visit, the vice president will also attend a conference in connection with the 20th anniversary of the permanent neutrality of Turkmenistan. Several leaders, including Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, will also be present.

Though the visit is strictly not a bilateral one, Vice President Ansari would hold a bilateral meeting with Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow.

On the second day, he will attend a wreath laying ceremony at the Monument of Neutrality in Ashgabat, along with other leaders.

In Ashgabat, the vice president will also pay his respects before a bust of Mahatma Gandhi that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had unveiled during his visit to the Central Asian nation in July this year.

The Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline ground-breaking ceremony will be held on Sunday, near the city of Mary.

Conceived in the 1990s, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan signed a framework agreement to implement the ambitious project after a meeting in Islamabad in 2002 and the preliminary feasibility studies were done by the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

The Indian Government requested the ADB for joining the project as an official member in 2006.

The vice president is also expected to meet Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani during the trip. (ANI)

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