RealNews

US diplomats set their sights on Turkmenistan's Berdymukhamedov

US policymakers believe that they can convince the new president of Turkmenistan, Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, to open up his country’s vast reserves of natural gas to American companies. Washington is aiming to revive a strategy that led to the greatest US diplomatic triumph in the Caspian Basin to date — the construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline in the late 1990s and early part of this decade. Skeptics, however, say the US push may be too little, too late. Russia presently enjoys an overwhelming advantage in the Caspian Basin, underscored by the December deal — signed by Russian, Turkmen and Kazakhstani leaders — to greatly expand a pipeline network that runs along the Caspian Sea’s shoreline. At this late stage, especially given Washington’s preoccupation with the Iraq war, the United States may lack the resources and the influence to surmount numerous obstacles in the Caspian Basin. Full Story

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