CHINA / National

China, Turkmenistan agree on gas, pipeline
Updated: 2006-04-03 19:43

Chinese President Hu Jintao signed agreements Monday with the visiting president of Turkmenistan for the Central Asian nation to sell China natural gas to fuel its energy-hungry economy and to build a pipeline to deliver it.

The two governments didn't immediately release financial details or say whether additional negotiations remained before pipeline construction and gas sales might begin.

Hu signed the "general agreement on realization of construction of a pipeline" with Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov, whose sparsely populated desert nation has the second-biggest gas reserves of any former Soviet republic, after Russia.

The agreement adds to a multibillion-dollar string of deals made by Beijing to import oil and natural gas.

China is especially eager to secure deals to receive oil and gas from neighboring countries by pipeline, whose fixed routes lock suppliers into a relationship with Beijing and which Chinese leaders appear to regard as safer than delivery by sea.

Neighboring Kazakhstan opened a pipeline to deliver oil to China in December. Last month, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that his government would build a pipeline to deliver gas to China and affirmed its commitment to building a separate oil pipeline.

At a ceremony attended by Hu and Niyazov in the Great Hall of the People, the seat of China's parliament, the two governments also signed an agreement for Beijing to provide favorable loans to Turkmenistan, though no financial details were released.

They also signed a joint pledge to crack down on terrorism and extremism a reference to their common fear of radical Islamic groups.