News 6 december — 19:26

Uzbekistan, Seeking Sea Access, Signs Railway Deal With Afghanistan

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Uzbekistan and Afghanistan have signed an agreement to extend a railroad connecting the two countries in a move that may eventually give Uzbekistan a direct link to sea ports, RFE/RL reports.

Landlocked Uzbekistan's access to marine shipping is very limited.

In 2011, the Uzbek state railway company, Ozbekiston Temir Yollari, built a short link between Hairatan, a town on the Uzbek-Afghan border, and Mazar-e Sharif, a major city in northern Afghanistan.

Tashkent has since expressed interest in extending that line to Herat, another Afghan city in the northwest, and a gateway to Iran. Another link, already under construction, will connect Herat to Iran, which may eventually enable Uzbekistan to send cargoes to and from Iran's Persian Gulf ports.

Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoev's office said in a statement that he and visiting Afghan President Ashraf Ghani signed an agreement on the construction of the Mazar-e Sharif-Herat railroad.

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