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Amid the avalanche of bad news in recent weeks, one positive development got little attention – a development that could help advance peace between India and Pakistan, improve chances for reconciliation in Afghanistan, undermine energy blackmail by Russia, and keep economic pressure on Iran while nuclear negotiations continue.On July 8, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India signed an agreement in Ashgabat to move forward with a 1,735-kilometer natural gas pipeline. This $7.5 billion project known as TAPI, or the Trans-Afghan Pipeline Initiative, has the potential to catalyze investment and trading opportunities in a region sorely in need of both by bringing gas from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan and Pakistan into India. First, TAPI has the potential to promote more positive political and economic interaction between Afghanistan and Pakistan.Second, TAPI could help improve relations between India and Pakistan and reduce chances of armed conflict between these two nuclear powers. Third, TAPI has the potential to contribute to reconciliation in Afghanistan, by creating economic opportunity for the Afghan people. Under the current arrangement, Pakistan and India will each receive 42 percent of the gas and Afghanistan 16 percent.
Lessons from Versailles for today’s imploding Middle East
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