PM: (Pakistan committed to strong ties with regional countries)

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has underlined the need for enhanced regional integration and connectivity to reap the dividend of peace.

Addressing the International Conference on Turkmenistan’s Permanent Neutrality in Ashgabat on Saturday, he said China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project has recently been launched which will go a long way in facilitating connectivity in the region.

He said Pakistan is also supporting other regional energy and infrastructure projects including the TAPI gas pipeline project, CASA 1000 and connectivity projects with Afghanistan. He said Pakistan attaches great priority to the TAPI project. This project has the potential to spur growth to change the economic landscape.

The Prime Minister said Pakistan seeks peace, progress and prosperity for all and determined to pursue the course of dialogue for resolution of outstanding disputes. He said he believes that shared prosperity is the real prosperity.

About relations with Turkmenistan, he said Pakistan was amongst the few countries that recognized Turkmenistan as a sovereign and independent state. He reaffirmed unflinching support to the permanent neutrality of Turkmenistan.

Addressing the conference, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said a peaceful and stable Afghanistan is in the interest of whole region. In his address, Uzbek President Islam Karimov called for collective efforts to combat challenges of terrorism.

Earlier, upon arrival of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, he was received by Deputy Prime Minister of Turkmenistan at the airport. During his stay, PM Nawaz Sharif would also participate in the ground breaking ceremony of Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) Gas Pipeline Project along with the President of Afghanistan and Turkmenistan and Vice President of India.

The visit would highlight the importance that Pakistan attaches to the TAPI Gas Pipeline Project and the commitment to its early completion. Pakistan will be able to import 1325 mmcfd natural gas from Turkmenistan. Thus, this project will help in mitigating energy deficit in the country.

In his bilateral interactions with the Turkmen President, the Prime Minister will share Pakistan’s perspective on important developments impinging on peace and security in the region and reiterate Pakistan’s keen desire to sustain and expand bilateral cooperation with Turkmenistan in trade, energy and defence. He will also hold a bilateral meeting with the President of Turkey.