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Economic Incentive For Peace In Afghanistan

Ashgabat, May 16 (RFE/RL) -- Reports say a proposal for an oil-and-natural gas pipeline across Afghanistan has become the focus of efforts to end the country's civil war. United Nations special envoy on Afghanistan Mahmoud Mesteri outlined the plan last week.

A RFE/RL correspondent in Ashgabat reports the presidents of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkmenistan signed a memorandum of understanding on the pipeline construction project at a regional economic summit in Turkmenistan's capital this week. Our correspondent cites the memo as saying Turkmenistan looks forward to exporting its oil and natural gas to Pakistan via Afghanistan. Afghanistan also expresses its support for the pipeline.

The correspondent also reports Turkmenistan's President Saparmurad Niyazov held talks with representatives of American and Saudi oil companies. These oil companies have launched research on the more than 1,100-km pipeline.

Regional and U.N. officials have said they believe the 2,500-million dollar project offers a genuine incentive for Afghanistan's warring factions to lay down their arms.