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Caucasus: Economic News Roundup

Ashgabat, 5 December 1996 (RFE/RL) - Turkmen officials have told Interfax news agency that Japan plans to loan Turkmenistan $85 million to help Ashgabat set up a modern telecommunications network. The two countries are expected soon to sign an agreement on the project. Turkmenistan's Communications Ministry yesterday said the project could be started by the end of the year. Japan was also reported considering railway-modernization projects for Turkmenistan.

Baku Plans To Use Russian Pipeline For 'Early Oil'

Baku, 5 December 1996 (RFE/RL) - Azerbaijan plans to export 800,000 tons of crude oil via Russian pipelines next year. Vakhid Akhundov, an economic policy adviser to Azerbaijan's government, yesterday told a Baku news conference that Azerbaijan's state-owned oil company (SOCAR) asked that the oil be shipped along the Baku-Grozny-Novorossiisk pipeline. Akhundov said Azerbaijan expects to make $100 million from these exports. Azerbaijan currently produces nine-million tons of oil a year and refines it all itself. SOCAR president Natik Aliyev said Azerbaijan could export 1.5-million to 2 million tons annually and still meet its own needs. Azerbaijan plans to begin export from its Caspian fields next summer.

Russia-Iran Cooperation May Increase

Moscow, 5 December 1996 (RFE/RL) - Russia's First Deputy Prime Minister Alexei Bolshakov says Russia and Iran have a significant potential to increase trade and economic cooperation. Bolshakov met yesterday in Moscow with Iran's Minister of Economic Affairs and Finance Morteza Muhammad-Khan. Interfax news agency says the talks covered Russia's participation in construction of hydraulic and thermal power stations in Iran, delivery of Russian oil-producing equipment, mutual payments and military-technological cooperation. Russia is also helping Iran build a controversial nuclear power plant. The meeting was also attended by Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Davydov, who is responsible for foreign economic issues.