Thursday, January 06, 2005

Iran Mania News

Iran Mania News: "Iran to push ahead with trans-Afghan corridor

Thursday, January 06, 2005 - ©2004

LONDON, Jan 6 (IranMania) - Uzbekistan, Afghanistan and Iran joined forces Wednesday to speed up realisation of a trans-Afghan transportation corridor aimed at securing a lucrative trade link between Asia and the Persian Gulf region.

Visiting Iranian and Afghan officials, after talks with Uzbek counterparts, approved the creation of an interstate coordination council on the road-building project, Uzbek official said. Details of the scheme have yet to be worked out.

"The document signed today in Tashkent will serve as a legal basis to develop the international trans-Afghan transport corridor," Ilkhom Zakirov, Uzbek foreign office spokesperson, told AFP.

The road-building project is important for Uzbekistan, a landlocked central Asian nation, in its drive to reach Persian Gulf seaports, while Afghanistan wants to serve as a transit country between southeast Asia and the Gulf. Iran for its part is anxious to boost trade in the region.

The goal, agreed upon in 2003 at a summit of the leaders of Afghanistan, Iran and Uzbekistan, is to extend a road from Uzbekistan southwards through Afghanistan to Iran's Persian Gulf Coast, possibly supplemented by a railway.

Uzbekistan has been pushing for the construction of a rail link eastward through Kyrgyzstan and deep into China in order to create a complete oil transit route between China and the Persian Gulf.

Last year Japan granted a $150 mln loan to Uzbekistan to help bring its rail system to the border with Afghanistan by developing a mountainous 110-kilometre section of track in southern Uzbekistsan.

Another $150 mln railway project in Afghanistan to connect the northern part of the country with Uzbekistans rail systems is waiting for US approval and grant money, an official from the Uzavtoyol (Uzbek auto roads) company, told AFP.

"Once money to help to build Afghanistans infrastructure is granted, our company will start construction of the 101-kilometre Termez-Hayraton-Mazari Sharif railway," he said, asking not to be named.

Uzbek construction teams have been participating in war-torn Afghanistan's rebuilding, restoring bridges and roads in the north."


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