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Top Story

March 17, 2016
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Pakistan, Turkmenistan sign MoU to curb terror financing

Top Story

March 17, 2016

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Seven other accords including intelligence sharing also inked; Nawaz offers
help for early completion of TAPI gas project; suggests Pakistan and
Turkmenistan railway corridor connecting Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Iran

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Turkmenistan on Wednesday inked eight accords on cooperation, including a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on financial intelligence to curb money laundering and terrorism financing and sharing intelligence on terrorism.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamadov witnessed the signing ceremony at the PM House as the respective sides inked the documents and also signed the joint communique.

Earlier, President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamadov was given a warm welcome on his arrival at the Prime Minister’s House and PM Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, who had earlier received him at the Nur Khan Airbase, greeted him again at his official residence.

Prime Minister and President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamadov warmly shook hands. A contingent of three services  presented a guard of honour to the visiting dignitary, who reviewed the parade. The national anthems of the two countries were played. The PM introduced the Turkmen president and his delegation to the members of his cabinet.

The Turkmen president was accompanied by a high-level delegation including Foreign Minister Rashid Meredov, Deputy Chairman of the Cabinet Yagshigeldi Kakayev, Minister for Energy Dovranmammet Rejepov and Finance Minister Muhammetguly Muhammedov. The two-day visit of the Turkmen president is part of regular high-level exchanges between the two brotherly countries. He last visited Pakistan in November 2011.

The Programme of Cooperation 2016-17 between the Ministries of Foreign Affairs was signed by Special Assistant to PM on Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatemi and Turkmenistan’s Foreign Minister Rashid Meredov.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for cooperation in exchange of financial intelligence related to money laundering and terrorism financing was inked by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and his Turkmen counterpart Muhammetguly Muhammedov. The MoU on cooperation in the field of energy was signed by Petroleum Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Turkmenistan’s Minister for Oil and Gas Myraigeldi Meredov. The MoU between National University of Modern Languages (NUML), Pakistan and Magtymguly Turkmen State University (MTSU), Turkmenistan was signed by Rector NUML Maj Gen (retd) Ziauddin Najam and Rector MTSU Gurtnyyaz Hanmyradov.

The MoU between Comsats Institute of Information Technology and Turkmen State Institute of Economics and Management (TSIEM) was signed by Rector Comsats Junaid Zaidi and Rector TSIEM Owezgeldi Ishanguliev.

Later, the PM said that Pakistan was committed to the early completion of Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project, considering it as a new chapter in economic collaboration and greater regional integration with Central Asia. In a one-on-one meeting with the president of Turkmenistan at the PM House, the PM said that Pakistan was ready to provide any assistance to expedite the implementation process of TAPI and help minimise the project cost. He said that Pakistan viewed TAPI not only as a gas pipeline project, but as a precursor to making it a trade and transit corridor as well. He said such a corridor could comprise gas pipeline, road, electricity transmission and fiber optic lines besidesone-on-one meeting with the President of Turkmenistan at the PM House, PM said that Pakistan was ready to provide any assistance to expedite the implementation process of TAPI and help minimise the project cost. He said that Pakistan viewed TAPI not only as a gas pipeline project, but as a precursor to making it a trade and transit corridor as well. He said such corridor could comprise gas pipeline, road, electricity transmission and fiber optic lines besides economic zones connecting Pakistan with Turkmenistan.

He said that it was essential for the TAPI members to work strenuously for the implementation of the project at the earliest as it would help in integrating the four member states by linking energy- rich Turkmenistan with energy-starved South Asia. He recalled attending the ground-breaking ceremony of TAPI gas pipeline project at Mary, Turkmenistan in December last year. He said that connectivity was the key to regional integration and the realisation of full economic potential for Central Asia. He suggested that Pakistan and Turkmenistan could be connected through railway corridor connecting Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Iran.

He also welcomed Turkmenistan's offer for export of 1000MW 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 offered Turkmenistan to take advantage of Pakistani ports for its exports and imports. He said the bilateral trade of $25.11 million needed to be increased and stressed the need for facilitating business visas and relaxing visa regime for the further promotion of economic relations.

Earlier, Prime Minister Sharif and President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamadov led delegation-level talks of their respective sides. Both sides also discussed prospects of cooperation in diverse fields including defence and security, counter-terrorism, education and science and technology.

Pakistan side included Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Defence Minister Khwaja Asif, Commerce Minister Engineer Khurram Dastgir, Petroleum Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, PM's Special Assistant on Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatemi, National Security Adviser Nasser Khan Janjua and Ambassador to Turkmenistan Dr Abdul Malik. The Turkmen side included Foreign Minister Rashid Meredov, Deputy Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers Yagshigeldi Kakayev and Minister of Finance Muhammetguly Muhammedov.

Later, both the leaders said that the threat of extremism and terrorism needed to be countered collectively to ensure peace and stability in the region. President of Turkmenistan and PM Sharif after holding a round of delegation-level talks told the media persons that the two countries shared similar views on important issues. 

PM said that Pakistan shared 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 added at a joint press stake out.

President Berdimuhamedov said that both the countries were facing common challenges and "combating common threats is our goal." Both the leaders said that they had good coordination at international forums and would continue to work together for regional and international peace and security.

Nawaz Sharif said that it was his third meeting with the President of Turkmenistan in nine months and said it was reflective of the depth, warmth and cordiality between the two countries. He said the deep seaports provided shortest route to the Arabian Sea to Turkmenistan and other Central Asian States. "We will be happy to see our brothers in Central Asia use these facilities," he maintained. He said regional connectivity was an important pillar of Pakistan's Vision-2025, aimed at making the country a hub of regional trade and commerce. "We are closely working with Turkmenistan for improving infrastructure development for better regional connectivity,"  he added.

He said it would be conducive to the promotion of economic relations, people-to-people contacts and tourism. He mentioned the inking of the joint communique, agreements and Memorandums of Understanding and hoped these would further strengthen their friendly ties. He expressed the hope that the Pakistan-Turkmenistan Business Forum would also facilitate bilateral trade and investment and said regular business-to-business contacts would further strengthen their economic ties.    

He termed the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan- Pakistan-India (TAPI) a "mega-energy cooperation project in the region. He said it would greatly help Pakistan in mitigating the shortage of natural gas in Pakistan. He recalled his participation in the "well-managed and impressive" ground breaking ceremony in December last year and said with the Turkmen gas, the energy starved industry would be running at its full potential.

President Berdimuhamedov said that 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," he added. He said the TAPI had a great impetus to boost socio-economic cooperation and hoped the project would soon be implemented. He said the two countries also had great cooperation in culture, science and education, relations dating back to centuries, and a desire to reach out to the people in neighbouring countries.

PM recalled the inking of the of the MoU with Turkmenistan and Afghanistan for import of 1000MW of electricity from Turkmenistan and said it would help the country reduce its energy deficit. "We have agreed that the work on this important project should be undertaken on a fast track basis," he added. He said the regional energy projects would facilitate regional connectivity and contribute to peace, stability and security by creating interdependence in the region.

President Berdimuhamedov said that the talks between the two sides also focused on cooperation in these vital areas. He hoped his ongoing visit to Pakistan would prove to be very beneficial and open new vistas of cooperation between them. He concluded his remarks with a wish for peace, progress and prosperity of Pakistan. He expressed gratitude to the prime Minister, the people and government of Pakistan for the warm hospitality and hoped his visit would further strengthen the "friendly and brotherly ties" between the two countries. He said the agreements inked today between Pakistan and Turkmenistan would further boost their bilateral ties. He said his government and people closely monitored every achievement of Pakistan and sincerely wished it success and prosperity.

 

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