Building starts on Afghan leg of Turkmenistan gas pipeline

Construction has begun on the Afghanistan stretch of an ambitious pipeline that is to carry natural gas from Turkmenistan to Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.

The 1840-kilometer (1140-mile) TAPI pipeline is to carry 33 billion cubic meters of gas a year, an important new export outlet for Turkmenistan whose economy centers on its vast natural gas reserves.

On Friday, workers at the Turkmen-Afghan border welded the first link crossing the frontier in a ceremony observed on video bridge by the presidents of Turkmenistan and Afghanistan, Pakistan's prime minister and India's foreign minister.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said: "We are transforming TAPI into a corridor that unites the region. This is not only an economic but also a political project."

Along with the beginning of the Afghan pipeline section, construction was also started Friday on an 800-kilometer (500-mile) 500-kilovolt power line to reach Afghanistan and Pakistan and a short railway to ferry workers and pipeline construction materials into Afghanistan.