Gas giant Turkmenistan scouts Latvia for EU trade
(RIGA) - The president of gas-rich Turkmenistan on Tuesday said his ex-Soviet state was eying the ports of European Union member Latvia as part of a new export corridor for its huge natural energy resources.
As he kicked off a two-day state visit to Latvia, President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov said he supported the development of an international transport corridor linking the Caspian and Baltic Seas via the Black Sea.
"It is possible we could use your ports," Berdymukhamedov told journalists and his Latvian counterpart Andris Berzins at a joint press conference.
"If Latvian ports have concrete proposals, we will be happy to consider them," he added.
Turkmenistan claims to have the world's fifth-biggest supplies of natural gas -- though British auditors Gaffney, Cline and Associates estimate the reserves could even be the globe's second-largest.
China and the West are both courting the Central Asian state and it is starting to work with foreign firms.
On Wednesday, Berdymukhamedov and his delegation are due to visit the port of Riga, which already acts as an entry point for a rail supply line across Russia and Central Asia, used by NATO troops in Afghanistan.
Latvia, which like Turkmenistan was under Moscow's rule until the Soviet bloc collapsed in 1991, is keen to exploit its geographical and historical links to act as a conduit for east-west trade.
"Latvia's geographic location has always been and continues to be its cornerstone," Berzins said.
Latvia, which joined the EU in 2004, aims to win financial support from Brussels to build a liquefied natural gas terminal, though fellow Baltic states Estonia and Lithuanian are also in the running.
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