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Afghanistan can join BTK railway project: Afghan envoy

AT Monitoring Desk-KABUL: Afghan Ambassador to Azerbaijan said that Afghanistan had the opportunity to join the important Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway project which will help the country to speed up the rebuilding process.

Mohammad Taqi Khalili told Trend News Agency, that Afghanistan could join the railway project through the Lapis Lazuli Corridor, which connects Turkmenistan with Afghanistan.

The ambassador said that Azerbaijan is playing significant role in implementation of the railway project which would help the region to explore new markets for their products. Khalili said: “This route [Baku-Tbilisi-Kars] is shorter and cheaper for Afghanistan, for exports and imports.”

Speaking about bilateral ties between Afghanistan and Azerbaijan, he said that relations between the two neighboring countries were growing rapidly. He hoped that ties between the two countries would improve further in different fields.

“We are working on this. 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,” Trend quoted the ambassador as saying.

Regarding law and order situation, particularly about security to foreign investors, Khalili said the Afghan government was committed to provide foolproof security to all those companies that want to invest in the country.

He went on to say that several foreign companies were operating in the country as despite numerous challenges, the government was “doing well” to provide security to the foreign companies.

When asked about realization of the Turkmenistan–Afghanistan–Pakistan–India (TAPI) gas pipeline project, he said the mega project would be ready by the end of this decade, 2020.

The diplomat said that execution and completion of the project depends on security situation in the region, adding, “The project is going on well, the countries involved are working.”

Trend adds: 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.

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