President Saparmurat Niazov arrived on April 19 in the United States, where his official visit begins today. Niazov has already held talks in New York and Washington with top executives of Amoco, UNOCAL, Shell, Bechtel, and other companies. The U.S. government has agreed to finance the feasibility study for a trans-Caspian gas pipeline from Turkmenistan to Azerbaijan, whence the projected line would continue to Turkey, to supply Mediterranean countries with Turkmen gas. Amoco is said to be chiefly interested in that project, whose cost is estimated at $3 billion.
Shell, for its part, demonstrates interest in a gas pipeline from Turkmenistan via Iran to Turkey. UNOCAL does also, in a pipeline from Turkmenistan via Afghanistan to Pakistan, to supply South Asian and East Asian countries. Turkmenistan’s gas deposits are among the world’s largest, but the existing export routes go through Russia, which practically blocks the exports. (Turan, international agencies, April 18 through 21) — VS
MOSCOW-BASED OPPOSITIONIST FACES CHARGES IN TURKMENISTAN.