A UNSC resolution has called for strengthening economic cooperation and connectivity between Afghanistan and its neighbours through the TAPI pipeline and Chabahar port projects involving India and China's Silk Road Economic Belt and Maritime Silk Road initiatives. The resolution adopted unanimously by the 15-member UN Security Council on Friday extended the mandate of UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) until March 17, 2018, stressing the political mission's role in supporting an inclusive Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process. It welcomed current efforts to strengthen regional connectivity and economic cooperation between Afghanistan and its neighbors, citing the example of the Turkmenistan- Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project and the Chabahar port project between Afghanistan, India and Iran. It said the UNSC "welcomes and urges further efforts to strengthen the process of regional economic cooperation, including measures to facilitate regional connectivity, trade and transit, including through regional development initiatives such as the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road (the Belt and Road) Initiative." The resolution also called for strengthening "regional development projects, such as the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan- Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project, the Central Asia South Asia Electricity Transmission and Trade Project (CASA-1000), the Chabahar port project, agreed between Afghanistan, India and the Islamic Republic of Iran." The TAPI project, which has a preliminary cost estimate of USD 10 billion, aims to export up to 33 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas per year through a proposed approximately 1,800-kilometer (km) pipeline from Turkmenistan to Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. The port of Chabahar is located in southeastern Iran in the Gulf of Oman. It is the only Iranian port with direct access to the ocean.
India, Iran and Afghanistan have signed the trilateral contract for the establishment of a transport and transit corridor among the three countries. The Silk Road Economic Belt project, a pet initiative of Chinese President Xi Jinping, is an overland route running through Central Asia, while the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road will traverse the South China Sea and Indian Ocean. Both are interconnected infrastructure networks being spearheaded by China in its attempt to play a much larger regional role and better connect its economy with those in the rest of Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Europe. China says at least 100 countries, including Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, have joined its ambitious the Belt and Road Initiative. India is yet to sign up for it.
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