After Mongolia uranium deal, India targets Turkmenistan gas

After Mongolia uranium deal, India targets Turkmenistan gas



After signing a uranium deal with Mongolia, India turns its gaze towards Turkmenistan with External Affairs Minister S M Krishna visiting the gas-rich Central Asian republic from Belarus, the first stop of his two-nation tour beginning on Wednesday.

In Belarus, Krishna will call on President Alexander Lukashenko and hold wide-ranging talks with his counterpart Sergey Martynov. India and Belarus will sign an agreement on cooperation in physical education and another pact on the establishment of a Digital Learning Centre in Minsk.   

The centre will impart skills in advanced computing and software creation to young Belarusian students, initially with Indian faculty members and thereafter with trained Belarusian professionals, the external affairs ministry said here while announcing Krishna's visit.

With austerity as the reigning mantra of the government, Krishna will travel to Minsk via Frankfurt in economy class on commercial flights. On Friday, Krishna heads to Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan. A programme of cooperation between the foreign ministries of India and Turkmenistan will be signed during the visit. Krishna's visit to Turkmenistan comes close on the heels of a uranium supply deal India signed with Mongolia Monday. The discussions in Turkmenistan will focus on intensifying cooperation in hydrocarbon sector.

Krishna's talks with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister in-charge of Oil and Gas sector Baymyrat Hojamuhammedov is expected to set the stage for substantive gas deals between the two countries. The two sides will also exchange ideas on reviving the proposed Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline which has been languishing for some time.  

Turkmenistan produces roughly 60 billion cubic metres of natural gas each year. About two-thirds of gas exports go to Russia's state-run Gazprom. Turkmenistan, one of the most ethnically homogeneous former Soviet republics, is now diversifying its gas exports. It is building a major gas pipeline to China, and is considering taking part in the EU-backed Nabucco pipeline.

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