Iran, Azerbaijan to build Rasht-Astra Railway

Iran’s ambassador to Azerbaijan said the two countries are “seriously” resolved to complete the Rasht-Astara railway project and that they will continue talks on a $500-million loan from Baku to finance the project.

“Regarding Rasht-Astara railway, both Iran and Azerbaijan are seriously determined to complete (the project),” Mohsen Pak-Ayeen told reporters in Tehran.

He added that countries, like Russia, Czech and Hungary have also expressed their willingness to participate in the project.

Negotiations are underway about Azerbaijan’s $500 million loan to Iran, the diplomat said, adding that an Iranian working group is to pay a visit to Baku within a couple of weeks to discuss the issue.

At a meeting in Baku on July 3, officials from Iran, Russia, and Azerbaijan exchanged views on the cost of building the crucial rail link project, which envisages connecting Iran’s northern city of Rasht with Azerbaijan’s Astara.

The three sides also studied the possibility of Russia’s participation in the financing of the project.

The budget for completion of Rasht-Astara railroad project is estimated at $1.1 billion, part of which will be supplied by the $500 million loan from Azeri banks.

When finished, Rasht-Astara section will connect the rail networks of Iran and Azerbaijan through the border city of Astara.

The entire project constitutes part of the north-south corridor.

The International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) is a multipurpose route for the transit of goods between Iran, Russia, Europe, India and Central Asia via shipping lines, railroad and land routes.

(Source: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)

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