DUSHANBE (Reuters) -- Tajikistan has started building a railroad to connect its capital Dushanbe to a bridge on the Afghan border, a key link in the projected NATO supply route through the former Soviet Union.
The United States plans to transit nonmilitary supplies for its troops by railroad through Russia and ex-Soviet Central Asian states. A formal agreement with Tajikistan, the ultimate link of the new transit path is still to be signed.
The new route is important to the United States, as Taliban militants have stepped up attacks on the traditional supply corridor in Pakistan.
"Tajikistan's President Emomali Rahmon, speaking at the launch ceremony, invited foreign investors to take part in the project," Rahmon's office said in a statement.
The cost of building the 146-kilometer link is estimated at $131 million.
Tajikistan, the poorest former Soviet republic, struggles to restore and modernize its infrastructure devastated during the 1990s civil war.