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Tehran, Kabul open first rail link

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The $75m-project will facilitate trade, travel between the two countries. The key infrastructure was started in 2007 with Iranian assistance.

Iran and Afghanistan on Thursday inaugurated the first railway link between the two countries.

Presidents of the two countries expressed hope it would enhance trade links across the region.

The 140-kilometre (90-mile) line running from eastern Iran into western Afghanistan will eventually be expanded by 85 kilometres to reach the Afghan city of Herat, providing a crucial transport link for the landlocked country, where decades of war have hindered infrastructure development.

The $75 million project began in 2007, with Iran funding construction on both sides of the border as part of its development assistance to the war-ravaged Afghanistan.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, speaking in a video conference, called it one of the historic days in relations between the two countries. He said Iran had succeeded in building the line despite sanctions imposed by the Trump administration after the US withdrew from Iran’s 2015 nuclear agreement with world powers.

A train gets moving during the inauguration of a new line linking eastern Iran and western Afghanistan at a railway station in the Iranian town of Khaf on December 10.

Iran and Afghanistan have officially inaugurated their first railway link, an achievement the two countries’ presidents said would help enhance trade across the region.

The $75 million Khaf-Herat railway project began in 2007, with Tehran funding construction on both sides of the border.

Speaking during the inauguration ceremony, held via videoconference due to the coronavirus pandemic, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said the new railway link represents an “important step for economic revival and development in both the countries.”

Iran’s President Hassan Rohani said it was “one of the historic days” in relations between the two neighbors.

“I see the prosperity of Iran and Afghanistan in this railway,” Rohani said, also speaking via video link.

“The development, security, and stability of Afghanistan [contributes to] development, security, and stability in Iran and the entire region,” he added.

The ceremony saw cargo trains depart from opposite ends of the line, a week after a shipment of cement was sent from Iran to Afghanistan by rail, inaugurating the railway link project.

Once completed, the 225-kilometer link will help transport 6 million tons of goods and 1 million passengers annually, according to officials.

Iran seeks to become a regional transport hub, allowing Afghanistan and other landlocked countries in the region to ship goods to its ports on the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. Agencies

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