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Turkmenistan: Oil Companies Reach Understanding on New Pipeline

Moscow, August 9 (RFE/RL) - Turkmenistan and companies from Russia, the United States and Saudi Arabia have signed a memorandum of understanding on the construction of a Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan gas pipeline.

The document was signed in Moscow yesterday as Turkmenistan's President Saparmurat Niyazov held talks with Russian, American and Saudi oil company representatives.

After the talks, Niyazov said an agreement was signed detailing conditions for further operations of a Russia-Turkmenistan joint stock company that transports and sells Turkmen gas to other members of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

Boris Shikhmuradov, Turkmenistan's foreign minister, held talks in Islamabad this week on the planned Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan pipeline. Turkmenistan is exploring the Afghanistan route because of U.S. sanctions against Iran and the planned participation in the pipeline project by the American oil company.

Turkmenistan and Pakistan have held talks with representatives of all political forces in Afghanistan to ensure the safety of the pipeline's Afghan section, said Niyazov.