US urges Turkmenistan to cut methane emissions to help battle climate crisis

US urges Turkmenistan to cut methane emissions to help battle climate crisis
Blinken, left, and Meredov met for discussions in Washington. / @SecBlinken, twitter feed
By bne IntelIiNews April 25, 2023

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has stressed to Turkmenistan the vital importance of reducing methane emissions to combat the climate crisis and outlined opportunities for work with Turkmenistan in rapidly reducing such emissions from its oil and gas sector.

Blinken raised the issue when he met with Turkmen Foreign Minister Rashid Meredov in Washington to discuss the United States-Turkmenistan bilateral partnership and areas of cooperation addressed during annual bilateral consultations held on April 24.

As bne IntelliNews reported in late March, Turkmenistan can be seen as holding the unwanted title of undisputed champion of the world for methane emissions. In fossil fuels, it is a methane "super-emitter", as confirmed by satellite evidence.

Deputy spokesperson for Blinken, Vedant Patel, said in a readout on the meeting with Meredov: “Secretary Blinken opened the meeting by highlighting the United States’ unwavering support for Turkmenistan’s sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity. The Secretary underscored the critical importance of reducing methane emissions to combat the climate crisis and outlined opportunities to work with Turkmenistan to rapidly reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas sector.

“Secretary Blinken and Foreign Minister Meredov discussed cultural and educational partnerships as well as improving respect for human rights and labor rights in Turkmenistan. They spoke about efforts to promote and protect the rights of Afghan women and girls. They also discussed regional developments, security cooperation, and partnering on economic opportunities.”

Separately, on April 24, General Michael “Erik” Kurilla, commander of US Central Command (CENTCOM), visited Turkmenistan.

In Ashgabat, Kurilla met with the Central Asian nation’s senior foreign affairs and military leaders.

In a press release, CENTCOM said: “Kurilla and the Turkmen leaders discussed methods to strengthen the U.S.-Turkmenistan security partnership.

“The Turkmen leaders praised the State Partnership Program, established in 2021 between the Armed Forces of Turkmenistan and the Montana National Guard. The program created an enduring partnership, building training events, professional development sessions, and cultural engagements between Turkmenistan and the Montana National Guard.

“They [meeting participants] also visited the People’s Memorial and Monument Complex where Kurilla and Anemetov laid a wreath in honor of Turkmenistan’s World War II fallen. Inside the monument, Kurilla received a tour and briefing on Turkmen history. They also visited the Magtymguly Pyragy monument and Independence Monument.”

“We respect Turkmenistan’s doctrine of ‘positive neutrality’ and are united in support of the territorial integrity and stability of the Central Asian states,” said Kurilla. “During this visit, I had the opportunity to not only sit, speak with, and engage in meaningful dialogue with the military and foreign affairs leadership of Turkmenistan, I also observed the wondrous Turkmen culture and had an opportunity to ride the country’s world-renowned Akhal-Teke horses.

“Visits like this allow the kind of enduring relationships that cannot be built over the phone or through a video teleconference. Such visits give me an opportunity to discuss security challenges and mutual opportunities, but also to get a glimpse of the amazing people, rich cultures, and stunning heritage across the CENTCOM region.”