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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Li Peng Arrives in Turkmenistan

ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan -- Chinese Prime Minister Li Peng arrived in the former Soviet republic of Turkmenistan on Wednesday, starting the second leg of his landmark tour of Central Asia and Kazakhstan.

Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov met Li as he disembarked from a China Airlines plane. The two reviewed troops and Li shook hands with more than 100 Turkmen officials.

The Chinese leader is due to discuss a possible project to build an oil or gas pipeline from this energy-rich nation eastward to China.

Turkmenistan, a desert nation of 4.2 million people, is the second biggest natural gas producer in the former Soviet Union after Russia. China's demand for oil and gas is growing rapidly.

Li, on China's first high-level tour to Central Asia, is due to fly to Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan before completing his 12-day tour in Mongolia. He started his tour in Uzbekistan on Monday.