Turkmenistan, Afghanistan stress importance of Lapis Lazuli transport corridor

Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, July 26

By Huseyn Hasanov – Trend:

Turkmenistan and Afghanistan have underscored the importance of the Lapis Lazuli transit transport corridor, consisting of Afghanistan-Turkmenistan-Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey route, Trend reports referring to Turkmen Dovlet Habarlary (TDH) state news agency.

The topic of interaction in the transport sector was addressed by high-level speakers at the opening ceremony of a 10-kilometer railway line at the Aqina station in Afghanistan’s Faryab Province. The delegation of Turkmenistan also took part in the event.

It was noted that the effective use of the transcontinental corridor will have a positive impact on building up partnership between the countries participating in the project and will contribute to the expansion of productive contacts in a large geo-economic space, the report said.

"It is especially worth noting that the construction of the railway on Afghan territory is carried out at the expense of the Turkmen side, and our human and material resources - workers, engineers, equipment, including track machines, cranes, and building materials - are being utilized here," the article says.

The TDH notes that a memorandum of understanding on the construction of the Aqina-Andkhoy railway on Afghan territory and the establishment of railway transport in Afghanistan was signed with the Ministry of Industry and Communication of Turkmenistan in Ashgabat in February.

The project, which was recently launched, is also aimed at expanding transport links between the neighboring states. In the future, it is planned to extend this railway line to the border with Tajikistan with further access to the states of the Asia-Pacific region.

According to TDH, the Kerki-Ymamnazar (Turkmenistan)-Aqina (Afghanistan) railway, commissioned in fall of 2016, is the first link of the Asian International Transport Corridor.

Prior to the opening, the entire volume of cargo transported between Turkmenistan and Afghanistan arrived at the Serhetabat-Torghundi and Kelif-Termez-Mazari Sharif railway crossings. Today, a reviving Afghanistan is looking for additional markets for its agricultural products. As such, the Aqina-Andkhoy railway line will open up new opportunities for the development of the economy of the neighboring country, the revitalization of small and medium-sized enterprises, and the delivery of Afghan products to the global market, the TDH reports.

As to the Lapis Lazuli project, the railway tracks and highways should connect the city of Torghundi (in Afghanistan’s Herat Province) to Ashgabat, and further to the Caspian port of Turkmenbashi. The corridor will continue to Baku, then via Tbilisi to Ankara (with branches in Poti and Batumi), and then from Ankara to Istanbul. The budget of this project, which aims to facilitate transit logistics and simplify customs procedures, is estimated at $2 billion.

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