UPDATES WITH STATEMENT BY TURKMENISTAN'S FOREIGN MINISTRY
By Shadi Khan Saif and Jeyhun Aliyev
KABUL, Afghanistan / ANKARA, Turkey (AA) – Afghanistan and Turkmenistan on Thursday inaugurated three major energy and connectivity projects aimed at bolstering bilateral and regional ties.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and his Turkmen counterpart Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov oversaw the inauguration of the projects through video links from Kabul and Ashgabat.
Ghani said it is a matter of immense pride that Afghanistan is renewing its longstanding relations with Central Asian countries.
“Regional connectivity clusters and large-scale projects such as railway, TAPI [Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India] gas pipeline, TAP [Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan] power transmission line, fiber optics network that can link South Asia to Europe by land and to the rest of the world will transform the living conditions of the Afghan people for the better and improve the situation in the entire region,” he said.
Speaking about the origins of the given projects, the Afghan leader highlighted their importance not only from the perspective of socio-economic re-establishment of the country, but also from the prospect of regional economic integration.
He also thanked the leadership of Turkmenistan for "fraternal support" and care about the close neighbor.
Waheed Tauhidi, a spokesman for Afghanistan’s power utility company Da Afghanistan Breshna Shirkat, told Anadolu Agency that one of the three projects is the 500kv Karki-Andkhoy-Pul-e Khomri power transmission project. It will help over 300,000 families in Afghanistan in getting connected to the power grid.
The 153-kilometer-long (95 miles) power transmission line is part of the power transmission line project along Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan route aimed at creating infrastructure for the export and import of electric power between the three countries.
Based on the project, the electricity from Turkmenistan will be supplied to a number of cities of Afghanistan, in particular Mazari Sharif, with further access to the cities of Pakistan.
A statement by the Afghan presidency said the other two include a fiber optics project aimed at providing 2,500 MBS internet to users in Afghanistan’s Herat and surrounding provinces.
The third project is the 30 km (18.6 mi) railway link between the two neighbors – 24 km (15 mi) main railroad and 6 km (3.6 mi) branch line – in the Andkhoy station along with construction of small bridges, level crossings and a road parallel to the railroad.
“Through the railroad, Afghanistan can connect with many countries, which is a significant step towards turning Afghanistan into the Asian roundabout," it said.
– Turkmen-Afghan cooperation
"All three projects that have been completed in short time are united by a common meaning and goal – to give strong impulse and ensure long-term development of our countries, well-being and prosperity of Turkmen and Afghan people, assist expanded international cooperation, mutual understanding, political and social stability," Berdimuhamedov said in his speech.
He also underlined that the implementation of given projects was the result of a multi-year close and constructive Turkmen-Afghan cooperation, according to the statement by Turkmenistan's Foreign Ministry.
Following the presidents, the heads of railway transport, energy and communication sectors of the two countries also addressed the inauguration.
The opening of this railway branch was marked by the solemn dispatch from the Aqina station towards the city of Andkhoy of a train consisting of 20 cars loaded with export products from Turkmenistan.
The memorandum of understanding on the construction of the Aqina-Andkhoy railway between the respective authorities of the two countries was signed following the results of high-level bilateral talks held in the Turkmen capital Ashgabat in February 2019.