IPSALA BORDER CROSSING, Turkey (AP) -- The Turkish and Greek prime ministers met Sunday on a bridge over the river that divides their countries to launch a joint construction project to connect rich natural gas fields in the Caspian Sea area and Central Asia to energy-hungry markets in Europe.
The project is a sign relations between the two bitter historical rivals -- both NATO members -- is warming. The Greek-Turkish pipeline should also offer an alternative to the Middle East supplies at a time when oil and gas prices are soaring.
The 186-mile pipeline from Bursa in Turkey to Komotini in Greece is expected to go into operation in 2006, and will later be extended to Italy as part of the Southern Europe Gas Ring Project.
The pipeline is expected to carry 405 billion cubic feet of gas a year when connections are made to other planned pipelines, and as demand for Caspian gas -- an alternative energy source to the volatile Middle East -- expands in coming years.