India to boost energy ties with Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan

April 10th, 2008 - 6:54 pm ICT by admin  

By Vishnu Makhijani
On Board Special Air India Aircraft, April 10 (IANS) India is set for a “more vibrant relationship” with Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, particularly in the hydrocarbon sector, Vice President Hamid Ansari said Thursday at the end of a week-long visit to the Central Asian nations. Speaking to reporters on board the special Air India aircraft that flew him home, Ansari said: “It was a very positive visit. The reception was very warm and the discussions very good.

“There is a clear appreciation of India and Indians. We need to have a closer and a more practical relationship (with the two countries).

“The stage is set for a more vibrant relationship…The signal we got was that they are keen on getting India involved (in the hydrocarbons sector),” he said.

“We have the capabilities, they have the capacities. We have to merge these two together,” the vice president maintained.

“These are new markets. There are new markets. There are difficulties in new markets. We need to understand these difficulties and explore and intensify our engagement,” he said.

Ansari, on his first visit abroad after assuming office last year, visited Turkmenistan capital Ashgabat April 4-6 during the course of which the two countries inked a landmark memorandum of understanding on engaging in the energy sector. This was a major breakthrough since India currently does not have a presence in Turkmenistan’s energy sector.

The vice president thereafter visited Kazakhstan capital Astana April 6-8 where President Nursultan Nazarbayev committed himself to assisting in India’s energy security efforts. While in the city, Ansari also addressed the Kazakhstan Senate, a rare honour accorded to a visiting dignitary.

He was in Almaty April 8-10 during which the Kazakh state university conferred an honorary doctorate on him.

Throughout the visit, Ansari’s hosts repeatedly broke protocol to send out the signal that they considered India a strong and reliable partner.

Admitting to “certain obstacles” as both Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan were landlocked countries, Ansari said: “We are not looking at one or two years but thinking in terms of decades. There are problems (of transportation) that we need to solve through cooperation.

“There is no need to think of these as barriers,” he added.

In this context, he noted that “certain routes have been opened, and certain routes are being contemplated”.

One of these routes starts from the Iranian port of Bander Abbas and runs to the Turkmenistan border. The other is the North-South corridor that runs from Bandar Abbas to the Caspian Sea.

“Both are feasible. Technical work is on and it will take time to resolve the issues involved,” the vice president added.

This apart, there was the proposed Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline that is “being studied in technical terms”, Ansari said.

Kazakhstan, the vice president said, was also keen on India getting involved in its food production sector.

“They have vast tracts of land that are lying uncultivated. They have said that Indian investment in their food sector would be welcome. We have hitherto not been thinking of food security and the (Kazakhstan) idea needs to be explored.

Asked whether this would mean that India would lease land in Kazakhstan for growing crops that would be subsequently shipped home, he said experts would study the proposal before drawing up a roadmap for its implementation.

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