Afghan minister says central Asia ties 'vital' to stability
Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Eklil Ahmad Hakimi called Monday for greater economic cooperation in central Asia, which he said was "vitally important" in bringing about stability in Afghanistan.
"This regional cooperation is vitally important," said Hakimi on the sidelines of a two-day conference organised by the UN Economic Commission for Europe on the issue.
His call was echoed by UN special envoy for Afghanistan Robert Watkins who said that "the economic development of Afghanistan and its integration into the regional and global economies is absolutely vital towards our stabilisation efforts in the country."
Hakimi said a gas pipeline project called Tapi is "one of the most important projects in the context of regional cooperation."
"More than 20,000 job opportunities will be created through this project," he said, adding that estimated investments in the project are expected to run up to seven billion dollars.
The planned pipeline running through Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India is backed by the United States as it does not pass through Iran unlike other projects planned by India and Pakistan.
According to Hakimi, heads of state of the four countries would be meeting in December to "operationalise the project."
© 2010 AFP