Baku, Azerbaijan, Feb. 18
By Khalid Kazimov - Trend:
There is no border town in Iran as safe as Astara, making the spot an ideal place to start expanding trade between Iran and Azerbaijan, Astara representative to the Iranian Majlis (parliament) Asghar Naimi Raz told Trend on Feb. 18.
"As two wings for Iran and Azerbaijan, the two border towns of Astara will play a key role in improving the two countries' cultural, political, and economic affairs," he said.
He stated that Iran is intent upon accomplishing the Rasht-Qazvin-Anzali-Astara railroad soon, in order to complete the North-South Corridor, which joins Russia to Azerbaijan, Iran, and then the Persian Gulf.
Deputy Director of Iran's Construction and Development of Transportation Infrastructure Company (CDTIC) said on Jan. 6 that the Astara- Bandar-e Emam Khomeyni railway project would come on stream in the next Iranian calendar year (to start March 21).
The Iranian side has completed about 80 percent of the construction of the railway. Currently, the remaining part is being constructed.
Naimi Raz added that turning Astara into a special economic zone is finally coming into being after 30 years, noting that the Astara quay is operational and certificates on the maritime border have been issued.
In August, Iran designated the 119-hectare area as a special economic zone. The Islamic Republic also recognized the maritime border in late January.
The MP hailed a formerly signed a protocol on suitcase trade which boosted the two countries' mutual ties greatly, but expressed pity that a few years ago the Parliament of Azerbaijan revoked related permissions, causing unemployment and economic downturn in the Iranian Astara.
Iran expects the Republic of Azerbaijan to revive the protocol so that the two countries' relations may fall on the path to development again, he asserted.
The operating hours of Iran's Astara border checkpoint on the border with Azerbaijan were extended Jan. 12.
From that time the checkpoint started operating 12 hours a day - from 08:30 till 20:30 (UTC/GMT +4 hours). It previously operated from 08:30 to 18:30.
Edited by CN