President Asif Ali Zardari.—File Photo

ASHGABAT: President Asif Ali Zardari on Thursday called for greater regional cooperation in areas of counter-terrorism and energy and urged the Central Asian Republics to use Gwadar port for trade.

Speaking at the opening session of the International Conference on Nauroz here at the Rukhyat Palace, the president said the region was of great geostrategic importance and underlined the need for robust road and rail links to enable its countries to fully exploit their natural resources.

He said Pakistan was ready to play its role in this regard. “We are willing to facilitate transportation of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Central Asia to South East Asia and other world markets. The latest and modern seaport of Pakistan at Gwadar is the shortest route for Central Asian states to the Arabian Sea,” Mr Zardari said.

He said that Gwadar port offered excellent facilities for export of LNG and other products. “We are also ready to provide safe transit of piped gas to neighbouring countries.”

Pakistan was keen to implement the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (Tapi) and the Iran-Pakistan (IP) pipeline projects, Mr Zardari said. He pointed out that work on the IP project was inaugurated recently.

He also underlined the need for strengthening regional cooperation in the areas of security and counter-terrorism. Pakistan firmly believed that peace and stability was a prerequisite for economic progress and development.

“We are keen to promote friendly relations with all, especially our neighbours and other regional countries. We are ready to work together with them for peace, progress and prosperity in the region,” he remarked.

President Zardari said that Pakistan and the Central Asian states were members of the Economic Cooperation Organisation whose main objective was to build infrastructure in the region.

He said that “connectivity through rail, road and air links was important not only within the region but also beyond”.

The president said the presence of leaders of regional countries or their representatives at the conference reflected the underlying strength of their common cultural and religious values and traditions.

“Our common traditions are deep-rooted in history,” he said and termed Nauroz a symbol of the common heritage. “We particularly need closer cooperation in trade, communications, transportation, energy and infrastructure,” President Zardari said.

He congratulated Turkmen President Gurbanguli Berdimuhammedov for the excellent arrangements made for the festival and thanked the people of Turkmenistan for their warmth and hospitality.

The conference was also addressed by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Tajik President Emomali Rehmanov and Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

On the occasion, President Berdimuhammedov thanked the delegations for visiting his country and celebrating with him Nauroz that he said symbolised a new dawn.

He said Turkmenistan had always worked for good neighbourly relations and that neutrality was the cornerstone of its foreign policy.

He said that national, regional and global development could only take place in an atmosphere of peace and tranquillity.—APP

Updated Mar 22, 2013 03:04am

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