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Presidents of Iran, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan Inaugurate Railway

The presidents of Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, and Iran have inaugurated a new railroad linking the three nations.

The ceremony took place on December 3 in Turkmenistan, where Iranian President Hassan Rohani joined Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev and Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov.

The 935-kilometer Ozen-Bereket-Gorgan line is now the shortest railway connecting the three states, making for faster transit.

Nazarbaev's office said earlier that the railway would increase the volume of goods shipped between the three countries to 10 million tons a year, up from 3 million tons, and that the figure could reach 20 million tons by 2020.

Iran and the former Soviet republics of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan all have Caspian Sea shorelines -- a source of tension for years among the five littoral states, which also include Azerbaijan and Russia.

Kazakhstan does not have a land border with Iran, and there is little passenger travel between Iran and tightly controlled Turkmenistan.

Based on reporting by Kazinform and Interfax