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Tajiks Summon Uzbek Envoy Over Blocked Rail Freight

DUSHANBE -- The Tajik Foreign Ministry has summoned the Uzbek ambassador to hand over a protest note about blocked rail freight, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Davlat Nazriev said Tajikistan hopes for Tashkent's cooperation in expediting the forward passage of some 1,000 freight cars bound for Tajikistan. He said the freight cars are being held up at the Khavos, Qarshi, Jayron, and Kudukli stations in Uzbekistan.

Usmon Qalandarov, the deputy head of Tajik State Railways, said Uzbekistan claims the delay is technical. He said the freight cars contain construction materials for the Roghun hydroelectric power plant, raw alumina for the Tajik aluminum plant, fuel, and some nonmilitary cargos bound for international forces in Afghanistan. Uzbekistan opposes the Roghun project.

Tajik officials estimate that if the blockade continues, it could inflict millions of dollars' worth of damage on the Tajik economy.

There has been no official reaction from Uzbekistan to the protest note handed today to Uzbek Ambassador Shokasim Shoislamov.