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Turkmen, Tajik, Afghan Presidents Sign Railroad Agreement

Afghan and Tajik Presidents Hamid Karzai (left) and Emomali Rahmon (2nd right) will mark Norouz in Ashgabat with Iranian and Pakistani counterparts Mahmud Ahmadinejad (2nd left) and Asif Ali Zardari.
The presidents of Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan have signed a memorandum of understanding for the construction of a railway line linking the three countries.

Hamid Karzai, Emomali Rahmon, and Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov signed the document on March 20 in the Turkmen capital, Ashgabat.

The 400-kilometer railroad is to connect the Afghan town of Akina-Andkhoy to Atamurat-Ymamnazar in Turkmenistan and Pyandzh in Tajikistan.

Construction is planned to begin in July in Turkmenistan. Turkmen workers are also to build the Afghan section of the railway.

A 75-kilometer line from Afghanistan into Uzbekistan began operating in late 2011.

The Afghan president's office quoted Karzai as telling a press conference after the signing that the railway link will play an important role in strengthening the economies of the countries and peoples in the region.

The Afghan and Tajik presidents are scheduled to attend Norouz festivities in Ashgabat on March 21, along with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad.

With reporting by AP and Interfax
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