Zardari, Manmohan may meet on sidelines on Turkmenistan summit this weekend

Thursday, December 9, 2010

ISLAMABAD - Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari may meet Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh this weekend on the sidelines of a summit in Turkmenistan, which both leaders will be attending on December 11.

According to sources, Zardari will attend the summit in which the heads of the governments of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and India will also participate to discuss the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project, The Nation reported.

Taking opportunity of this summit, Zardari and Manmohan are expected to hold a sideline meeting, which may help resume stalled peace talks between India and Pakistan, it added.

When contacted, Presidential Spokesperson Farhatullah Babar confirmed that Zardari would leave for Turkmenistan on Friday to attend the summit, but did not comment over the possibility of Zardari-Manmohan meeting.

When contacted, an official from the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Sources said on the condition of anonymity, “I don’t think that the project is going to be finalised on December 11, rather they will discuss certain issues pertaining to the project including security of the gas pipeline.”

Pakistan is under the impression that the TAPI gas pipeline project would be easier to implement than the Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) line, as it already has the backing of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the paper said.

It is noteworthy that the United States has long been encouraging Pakistan to abandon the IPI project and consider TAPI for meeting its gas needs, it added. (ANI)

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