Washington: The US on Thursday welcomed India's decision to go-ahead with the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project, terming it as a positive step forward.
"We think this is a positive step forward on TAPI," a State Department spokesperson said in reaction to the Indian Cabinet decision.
"We hope to see further momentum and progress on this regional strategic priority," said the spokesperson.
The Cabinet on Thursday decided to go ahead with the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project.
India will sign next week an agreement to buy natural gas from Turkmenistan through the $7.6-billion pipeline passing through Afghanistan and Pakistan which the US had been backing as an alternative to Iran-Pakistan-India line.
The Cabinet on Thursday gave approval to state-owned gas utility GAIL India signing a Gas Sale and Purchase Agreement (GSPA) with TurrnenGas, Turkmenistan's national oil company, on May 23/24 for buying gas through the TAPI pipeline.
The 1,680-km pipeline from Turkeministan's South Yolotan field, now renamed as Galkynysh, will run to Herat and Kandahar province of Afghanistan, before entering Pakistan. In Pakistan, it will reach Multan via Quetta before ending at Fazilka (Punjab) in India.
The pipeline would carry 90 million standard cubic meters per day of gas, of which 14 mmscmd would be bought by Afghanistan. India and Pakistan would get 38 mmscmd each.
The US was always supportive of the TAPI gas pipeline and opposed to the Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline.
Early this year, responding to a question at a Washington-based think tank, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, Robert Blake, had termed it as a strategic priority and said that this is something that the US would like to see it go forward.
"I think India has a huge interest in seeing this project proceed and has given its strong backing to this. The main challenge now is to, I think, find an international oil company that's going to be willing to kind of take this project on and be its champion," Blake had said.