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Monday, December 29, 1997 Published at 14:10 GMT

World: Monitoring

Iranian media reports on new gas pipeline
image: [ Turkmen President Niyazov (left) and Iranian President Khatami at the opening ceremony ]
Turkmen President Niyazov (left) and Iranian President Khatami at the opening ceremony

Turkmen President Saparmyrat Niyazov and his visiting Iranian counterpart Mohammad Khatami officially opened a new gas pipeline linking Turkmenistan with Iran on Monday 29th December, IRNA news agency reported.

The 200-km pipeline links Korpedzhe in western Turkmenistan with Kord Kuy in northern Iran, and forms the first section of a projected pipeline which will carry Turkmen gas to Western markets via Iran and Turkey. The pipeline's initial annual capacity will be 4bn cubic metres of gas, but this is expected to double by the year 2006, according to earlier Russian media reports.

The 195m-dollar project to build the Korpedzhe-Kord Kuy pipeline was carried out by Iran's National Oil Engineering and Construction Company, which won an international tender for the project in 1995, IRNA said.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Khatami said the event marked "another step towards bolstering Tehran-Ashkhabad relations", IRNA said in a separate report. He said the project was "an indication of Iran's goodwill to promote cooperation with neighbouring countries".

"The pipeline, which for the first time allows Turkmenistan to export gas since its independence, will lead to the political and economic development of Turkmenistan," he continued.

"Furthermore, it will reinforce the pillars of Turkmenistan's independence. The Islamic Republic of Iran takes pride in taking steps towards economic development in neighbouring Turkmenistan."

IRNA said in another report that the two presidents opened an international fibre-optic communications line in Turkmenistan on Sunday 28th December. The 715-km line forms part of a 17,000-km network linking China with Germany, and was built by an Iranian company, the agency said.

During their first round of talks on Sunday 28th, Niyazov and Khatami discussed how to expand bilateral and regional cooperation, Iranian TV reported.

Niyazov "referred to the record of warm and sincere ties between the peoples and governments of Iran and Turkmenistan and emphasized that the two countries are determined to strengthen their good and fraternal ties", the television said.

Khatami said he was "delighted" to be visiting Turkmenistan on his first foreign trip since being elected president in May, and added that Iran's policies are "based on mutual respect and aimed at reducing tensions".

Khatami said that countries should strive to strengthen their economic foundations if they want to preserve their independence, adding that Tehran was "prepared to cooperate with and assist Ashkhabad to strengthen Turkmenistan's economic infrastructure".

IRNA quoted Khatami as saying at the talks that Iran was "happy to have good brotherly relations with all world nations and especially with her neighbours at a time when a number of big world powers are intent on exerting oppressive pressure on other nations".

Speaking at a banquet held in his honour on Sunday 28th, Khatami praised the expanding ties between Iran and Turkmenistan, Iranian radio reported.

He said that the opening of the new gas pipeline and the inauguration of the fibre-optic communications line reflected their determination to expand their relations.

He said that the laying of the gas pipeline, the increase in gas exports to Iran and the transfer of Turkmen oil to the Gulf were among dozens of cooperation projects which related not only to the economy and trade but also to culture, science and education.

Niyazov praised the active policies pursued by the two countries over the past six years, including the construction of the Mashhad-Serakhs-Tedzhen railway, which was completed in May 1996 and links the Iranian and Central Asian rail networks.

He said economic cooperation had brought Iran and Turkmenistan closer together and was a source of positive development in the region, the radio reported.

Also on Sunday 28th, Khatami visited the Makhtumkuli university in Ashkhabad, where he was awarded an honorary degree in the presence of President Niyazov, IRNA reported. In a speech at the university, Khatami said that "a common religion between the peoples of Iran and Turkmenistan is a solid ground for bringing the peoples of the two countries closer together", the agency reported.

Khatami also visited the Iranian embassy in Ashkhabad on Sunday 28th, where he expressed the hope that visa requirements between the two countries would soon be lifted, IRNA said in another report.

Sources: IRNA news agency, Tehran, in Persian 0742 gmt 29 Dec 97

IRNA news agency, Tehran, in English 0838 gmt 29 Dec 97

IRNA news agency, Tehran, in English 1847 gmt 28 Dec 97

Vision of the Islamic Republic of Iran Network 1, Tehran, in Persian 1530 gmt 28 Dec 97

IRNA news agency, Tehran, in English 2041 gmt 28 Dec 97

Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Tehran, in Persian 2030 gmt 28 Dec 97

IRNA news agency, Tehran, in English 1940 gmt 28 Dec 97

IRNA news agency, Tehran, in English 2240 gmt 28 Dec 97

BBC Monitoring (, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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