Afghanistan to be linked to China via Uzbekistan railway


KABUL (TCA) — Uzbekistan’s Deputy Prime Minister Jamshid Qochqarov, who arrived on a visit to Kabul on January 20, said that Afghanistan would be connected with China through his country’s Andijan railway route within the next three days, Pajhwok Afghan News reported.

Qochqarov also said talks were underway on funding the Mazar-i-Sharif — Herat railway road in Afghanistan and an assessment for the project had been completed.

During Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani’s official visit to Tashkent in December 2017, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan signed an agreement to extend a railroad connecting the two countries in a move which may eventually give landlocked Uzbekistan a direct link to sea ports, RFE/RL reported.

In 2011, 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 Gulf ports.

Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev’s office said in December that he and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani signed an agreement on the construction of the Mazar-e Sharif-Herat railroad.

At the time, the statement from Mirziyoyev’s office provided no details on the cost or source of funding for the rail project. The original, short link was almost fully financed by the Asian Development Bank, which has also financed studies for the expansion project.

Sergey Kwan