Karzai returns home from Turkmenistan
KABUL (PAN): President Hamid Karzai returned home on Wednesday night from a day-long visit to Turkmenistan, where work on the Afghanistan-Turkmenistan-Tajikistan railroad was formally launched.
Karzai and Tajikistan's President Imomali Rakhmon joined their Turkmen counterpart in laying the foundation of the 250 mile regional railway line near Atamurat city in southeastern Turkmenistan.
Karzai was warmly received on his arrival in Turkmenistan by the host president before the three leaders visited the project site. They agreed on enhanced cooperation among their countries in various fields, the Presidential Palace in Kabul said.
Speaking at the ceremony, the Turkmen leader said today they were attending a historic event, the opening of the railway project that was important for unlocking the region's potential of economic growth.
For his part, Karzai called the project a major stride toward a shared prosperous future for the citizens of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan. It would connect the three neighbours and other countries in the region, he said.
Estimated to cost id="mce_marker".5 billion, the railroad will help the landlocked country expand trade ties with former Soviet republics and reach south Asia markets, including Pakistan and India.
The Asian Development Bank and the Islamic Development Bank have evinced an interest in the ambitious project, but have made no clear commitment to finance the railway's construction.
With Turkmenistan committed to funding the construction of an 85-km stretch from Atamurat to Imamnazar at the Afghan border, Kabul has signalled its willingness to build 22-mile portion of the route from the Turkmen border to the Andkhoi district of Faryab province.
Karzai was accompanied by his Foreign Minister Dr. Zalmai Rassoul, National Security Advisor Rangin Dadfar Spanta, Public Works Minister Najibullah Awjan and Humaira Ludin Etemadi.
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