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Turkmenistan, Afghanistan inaugurate new rail link

Associated Press Associated Press 28/11/2016 By ALEXANDER VERSHININ, Associated Press

IMAMNAZAR STATION, Turkmenistan — The presidents of Turkmenistan and Afghanistan on Monday officially opened a new railroad that will link the oil-rich former Soviet republic with Afghanistan.

Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov and his Afghan counterpart, Ashraf Ghani, put on white work mittens at the Imamnazar station on the Turkmen side of the border on Monday to tighten the screw on a rail at the platform which was covered with expensive Turkmen carpets for the ceremony.

The new railroad will bring Turkmen goods to Afghanistan, and the first freight train has departed, carrying grain, flour and some construction materials.

"The launch of the new road presents significant opportunities for Afghanistan, Tajikistan, China, India, Pakistan and the Pacific region and creates favorable conditions for increasing freight traffic all the way onto Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia, Azerbaijan and Europe," Berdymukhamedov said at the ceremony.

Ghani hailed the new railroad as "a dream of the Afghan people coming true."

The two presidents also formally opened a new oil terminal on the border.

Turkmenistan's ambition is to extend the 88-kilometer road further east to Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and onward to China. Two years earlier, Turkmenistan inaugurated a railroad that linked another former Soviet republic, the oil-rich Kazakhstan, with the Persian Gulf via Iran.

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