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Iran-Armenia railway construction memorandum signed

By Messenger Staff
Friday, April 10
On April 3 the Iranian and Armenian Governments signed a memorandum on constructing Iran-Armenia connecting railways. The formal signatures of Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian and his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, which are required before the project is implemented, will be affixed during Sarkisianís visit to Tehran later this month.

The memorandum states that the railway will be 470 kilometres long, 60 kilometres of which will be in Iranian territory and 410 in Armenia. The project will be implemented in three stages, a feasibility study, route mapping and construction. The first two stages will take approximately one and a half years, the construction itself taking 3 to 4. Approximately USD 2 billion could be needed to implement the project and negotiations are underway with the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and other possible stakeholders.

Iran has stressed that this project will not hinder the implementation of the concurrent Iran-Azerbaijan-Russia railway project and these two projects will not compete with each other. On the Armenian side, Minister Gurgen Sarkisian states that the railway will make it possible for Armenia to reach Central Asian countries and Iran to reach the Black sea ports of Georgia, and thus Europe.

The Minister added that there is also the option of connecting Armenia with Russia though Georgia and Abkhazia, and connecting Iran with Europe via Armenia and Turkey is also possible. These projects however are very expensive and are low priorities at this time of world financial crisis, thinks Director of the Armenian Caucasus Institute Aleksandre Iskanderian.