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Thursday, April 27, 2017
Expansion of regional cooperation in the railway transport is in the focus of the two-day Economic Cooperation Organization's railway authorities meeting that opened in Baku, Azerbaijan on 17 April with the participation of representatives from Azerbaijan, Turkey, Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Pakistan and Iran. The 13th meeting of the heads of ECO Railway Authorities started in the Azeri capital along with the 7th Meeting of Railway Committee of ECO Transit Transport Coordination Council (TTCC).The meeting covered a wide range of topics related to the latest developments related to the ECO container trains operation, train service challenges, important regional railway infrastructure projects and new regional initiatives, according to Azerbaijan State News Agency. Addressing the conference, Igbal Huseynov, Deputy Chairman of Azerbaijan Railways, outlined the role of international transport corridors in increasing the transit potential.Touching upon the implementation of the International North-South Transport Corridor, Huseynov said that the construction of the 8.3 kilometers single-track railway from the Astara station (Azerbaijan) to the Iranian border and the construction of the railway bridge across the Astara River as part of the Gazvin-Rasht-Astara (Iran) - Astara (Azerbaijan) railway project have been completed.In the meantime, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that "There is a possibility for transit cooperation with Georgia to link the Black Sea to the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean, which is a very favorable way for the future of transit and the North-South Corridor." Zarif made the remarks in Ashgabat on Sunday, as he started his three-day tour of Turkmenistan, Georgia, and Kyrgyzstan. The International North-South Transport Corridor (NSTC) was formalized between India, Iran and Russia in 2000 to link the Subcontinent and the Middle East to the Caucasus, Central Asia and Europe.Besides Iran, India and Russia, countries that are on board to integrate into the transit network include Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Turkey, Tajikistan, Oman, Syria and Bulgaria. The NSTC opens a window for alignment with Silk Road Economic Belt pushed by China to establish new trade and transport links with Central Asia and Europe and provide a counterbalance to US “pivot” to Asia. - Timesca
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