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Uzbekistan Blocking Rail Traffic Into Tajikistan

DUSHANBE -- Tajikistan's Foreign Ministry says it is hopeful that Uzbek officials will soon allow about 1,000 stranded railroad cars carrying construction materials and foodstuffs to move into Tajikistan, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.

Tajik Foreign Ministry spokesman Davlat Nazriev told RFE/RL that the cargo is being held up by the Uzbek railroad company and customs and border officials.

The goods -- which are mainly from Russia and Iran -- have been held at the Uzbek-Tajik border for several weeks.

Tajik businessman Sherali Muqimov said that in November he was sent 76 railroad cars of cement and other construction materials from Iran that are still being held by Uzbek railroad officials. He said he is worried that the quality of the cement is lessening as it sits on the tracks under rain and snow.

Jovid Sharifov, a Tajik customs service official, said that according to Commonwealth of Independent States legal agreements, the country in which a product in transit is spoiled is required to reimburse the owner for all damages.

In September, some 200 Tajik railroad cars with food and construction materials were also stranded on Uzbek territory.

Uzbek deputy customs chief Bakhtiyor Hakimov told RFE/RL then that there was a small technical problem that would be solved quickly.

But Tajik analysts said they believe the real problem with the stalled railroad shipments is political and results from the Uzbek government's dissatisfaction with the construction of Tajikistan's new hydropower projects, which Tashkent says will harm its agriculture.