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Cablegate: Turkmenistan: Berdimuhamedov Visit to Kabul A

VZCZCXRO0611
PP RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHBI RUEHCI RUEHDF RUEHIK RUEHLH RUEHLN RUEHLZ
RUEHPW RUEHROV RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHAH #0538 1201123
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 291123Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY ASHGABAT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0703
INFO RUCNCLS/ALL SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 3703
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 1521
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 1388
RUEHIT/AMCONSUL ISTANBUL PRIORITY 1957
RHMFIUU/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE PRIORITY 2469
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC PRIORITY

UNCLAS ASHGABAT 000538

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR SCA/CEN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PINR PREL ECON ENRG EPET AF TX
SUBJECT: TURKMENISTAN: BERDIMUHAMEDOV VISIT TO KABUL A
DEMONSTRATION OF GOOD INTENTIONS


1. (U) Sensitive but unclassified. Not for public Internet.

2. (SBU) SUMMARY: Turkmenistan's president arrived April
28 for a one-day visit in Kabul. Although the two presidents
see opportunities in an expanded relationship, the projects
they are most interested in will require further commitment,
cooperation, and funding. The first two elements are
advancing, but funding remains an issue. END SUMMARY.

3. (U) President Berdimuhamedov traveled to Kabul on April
28 for a one-day official visit, the first such visit by a
Turkmen president to Afghanistan. He met with Afghanistan's
Minister of Foreign Affairs, President Karzai, and with
representatives of an Afghan-based Association of Turkmen,
according to Afghan Charge Haji Rooz Noor. (NOTE: Noor said
he had served as a governor in northern Afghanistan before
this diplomatic assignment. As governor, he said, he had
enjoyed a close and productive relationship with U.S.
diplomats. END NOTE.)

FOCUS ON EXPANDING COOPERATION

4. (SBU) Noor, who met with Charge and PolOff on April 28,
said the two presidents would sign a memorandum during the
visit intended to expand the bilateral relationship in the
energy, transportation, fuel, and agriculture sectors.
According to press reports, two memoranda on transportation
and energy cooperation were to be signed, as well as an
agreement on scientific and cultural cooperation and a joint
communiqu. Berdimuhamedov and Karzai were also slated to
discuss water issues.

NO MOVEMENT ON TAPI EXPECTED

5. (SBU) Noor said he did not expect any new developments
during Berdimuhamedov's visit regarding the
Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline (TAPI),
although Turkmenistan's and Afghanistan's governments are
both working hard to advance the project. The construction
of a railroad from the Turkmen border that would transit
Afghanistan and continue to neighboring countries, as well as
regional security issues were also expected to top the agenda.

BERDIMUHAMEDOV PLAYS UP TURKMENISTAN ASSISTANCE

6. (U) During a public statement, President Berdimuhamedov
took the opportunity to describe humanitarian assistance
Turkmenistan's government delivered to its neighbor during
the harsh winter, and added that Turkmen electricity and gas
was continuing to be sold to Afghanistan at reduced prices.
He also mentioned joint reconstruction projects that are
underway to extend Afghanistan's electricity infrastructure
further into its provinces.

7. (SBU) COMMENT: The visit represented a desire on the
part of both governments to try to advance several priority
projects such as TAPI, the railroad and electricity
initiatives. TAPI has its own impediments, such as pipeline
security, that will need to be overcome. The other two
projects, however, have fewer issues to resolve. However, it
remains unlikely that TAPI or the other two projects will
advance at a modest pace unless he decides it is in
Turkmenistan's interest to finance at least some portion of
the costs. Turkmenistan's president may be hoping that
international assistance to Afghanistan will pay most -- if
not all -- of the costs of these projects, limiting
Turkmenistan's role to that of a neighboring supplier. END
COMMENT.
CURRAN

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