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Turkmenistan Holds Conference On Creating Desert Lake

The Karakum desert

The Karakum desert

ASHGABAT -- A two-day international conference on the creation of a lake in Turkmenistan's Karakum Desert was held in the western port city of Turkmenbashi, RFE/RL's Turkmen Service reports.

Participating scientists and specialists at the conference assessed the anticipated impact of the lake on the region's ecosystem.

Kyrgyz water resources expert Kayrat Moldashev told RFE/RL's Turkmen Service that he welcomes the Turkmen government's initiative in solving its water problems.

At the same time, Moldashev warned of the possible negative impact on the entire region of collecting water in a natural basin.

"It is necessary to make ecological testing of the impact of the lake with the participation of international experts," Moldashev said.

The project to create the 2,000-square-kilometer Altyn Asyr Lake was first announced in 2000 by then-Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov. Niyazov died in December 2006.

Turkmenistan believes the multibillion project will facilitate irrigation and ensure the effective managment of water resources, thus contributing to the development of the country's agricultural output.

The Karakum Desert makes up some 70 percent of the area of Turkmenistan.