Afghanistan can join BTK railway project, says ambassador

Oil&Gas Materials 19 June 2015 13:02 (UTC +04:00)
Afghanistan can join the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway project through the Lapis Lazuli Corridor.
Afghanistan can join BTK railway project, says ambassador

Baku, Azerbaijan, June 19

By Jamila Aliyeva - Trend:

Afghanistan can join the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway project through the Lapis Lazuli Corridor, which connects the country with Turkmenistan, the Afghan Ambassador to Azerbaijan Mohammad Taqi Khalili told Trend.

"This route [BTK] is shorter and cheaper for Afghanistan, for exports and imports," said the ambassador, adding that Azerbaijan plays an important role in the project's realization.

He went on to add that the relations between Azerbaijan and Afghanistan develop very fast, noting that the future of his country's relations with Azerbaijan is very promising.

Taqi Khalili said that hopefully Afghanistan and Azerbaijan can make the relations much more productive in the future.

"We are working on this," he said. "Recently we have had many delegations from Afghanistan. For the first time in the history of our relations with Azerbaijan the minister [of economy and industry] Shahin Mustafayev visited Afghanistan."

Commenting on the issue of security of the foreign companies' operations in Afghanistan, the ambassador said the country's government has done its best to provide them with enough security.

"There are many foreign companies in Afghanistan," he said. "Despite all the problems and challenges, my government is doing well on this issue."

Speaking about the progress in the realization of the project for construction of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline, the diplomat said the project will be hopefully ready by 2020.

He said everything depends on security situation in the realization of the TAPI.

"The project is going on well, the countries involved are working," said Taqi Khalili.

Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway is being constructed on the basis of the Georgian-Azerbaijani-Turkish intergovernmental agreement.

The State Oil Fund of Azerbaijan (SOFAZ) finances the project in line with the Azerbaijani president's decree 'On the implementation of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars project activities' dated February 21, 2007.

A new 105-kilometer branch of the railroad is being constructed as part of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars project. In addition, the railway's Akhalkalaki-Marabda-Tbilisi section is under reconstruction in Georgia, what will increase its capacity to 15 million metric tons of cargo per year. A depot is under construction in Akhalkalaki for the transition of trains from the existing tracks in Georgia to the European ones.

It is planned to complete the project's realization in 2015.
The highest capacity of the corridor will be 17 million metric tons of cargo per year. At the initial stage, this figure will be one million passengers and 6.5 million metric tons of cargo.

TAPI's length is meant to be 1,800 km, of which 200 km will run through Turkmenistan, 773 km through Afghanistan, 827 km through Pakistan.

The pipeline is designed to meet the gas needs of the industries in the countries with a population of over 1.5 billion people.