Tajikistan starts building railroad to Afghan border

DUSHANBE Thu Mar 19, 2009 7:20pm IST

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DUSHANBE (Reuters) - Tajikistan on Thursday started building a railroad to connect its capital Dushanbe to a bridge on the Afghan border, a key link in the projected NATO supply route through the former Soviet Union.

The United States plans to transit non-military supplies for its troops by railroad through Russia and ex-Soviet Central Asian states. A formal agreement with Tajikistan, the ultimate link of the new transit path is still to be signed.

The new route is important to the U.S. as Taliban militants have stepped up attacks on the traditional supply corridor in Pakistan.

"Tajikistan's President Imomali Rakhmon, speaking at the launch ceremony, invited foreign investors to take part in the project," Rakhmon's office said in a statement.

The cost of building the 146 kilometre link is estimated at $131 million.

Tajikistan, the poorest former Soviet republic, struggles to restore and modernise its infrastructure devastated during the 1990s civil war.

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