Russia has offered to join the ambitious Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline, even as it opted out of a project to build a gas pipeline from Iran to Pakistan and India.

Russia's natural gas giant Gazprom has opened talks with Turkmenistan on the company's possible involvement in the TAPI project, said Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin, who is in charge of the energy sector.

The Russian proposal was discussed during President Dmitry Medvedev's visit to Turkmenistan on Friday.

The Kommersant daily on Saturday quoted Mr. Sechin as saying that Gazprom would be willing to join TAPI as a contractor, designer or a full consortium member. This means that Gazprom is willing to help fund the high-risk project, the paper said, in order to thwart the West's efforts to get Turkmen gas for the proposed Nabucco gas project that would compete with Russian gas exports to Europe.

India last month joined Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan in signing a TAPI Gas Pipeline Framework Agreement (GPFA). Turkmenistan hopes a Gas Sales Purchase Agreement (GSPA) may be signed during a proposed TAPI summit in the Turkmen capital Ashgabat in December.

Russia signalled readiness to join TAPI as it lost interest in the Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline, which Gazprom had earlier promised to help build.

Russia's envoy to Pakistan practically ruled out Russian participation in the IPI project.

“No Russian company is interested in executing the gas project between Pakistan and Iran,” Ambassador Andrey Budnik told Pakistani media earlier this month.

Russian experts link Gazprom's reluctance to join IPI to international economic sanctions against Iran. Last month Moscow cancelled a contract to sell advanced S-300 air defence missile systems to Iran.

Keywords: Russiagas pipeline

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