Baku Calls for Prompt Action on North-South Corridor
In a meeting between Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Iran’s Minister of Economy and Financial Affairs Ali Tayebnia in Baku, President Aliyev underlined the importance of the so-called North-South Transport Corridor and a subsequent railway connection between the two countries, Mehr news agency reported.
“The project must become operational as soon as possible,” the Azerbaijani president said.
Upon completion, the much-heralded corridor project will shorten the distance between the Persian Gulf, Central Asia and Europe. It has been under construction since 2007 after Iran, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan agreed to start working on the railway, which is 925 kilometers long in total, with 85 kilometers in Iran’s territory, 700 in Turkmenistan and 140 in Kazakhstan.
It is estimated that initially three to five million metric tons of cargo per year will be transported via this route. In the long term the volume is set to increase to 10-12 million metric tons.
The project, which is yet to be fully completed, has been financed by the three governments as well as the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Islamic Development Bank (IDB).
Tayyebnia began his three-day visit to Azerbaijan on Wednesday at the invitation of his Azerbaijani counterpart. As well as President Ilham Aliyev, Tayebnia also met with a number of other top Azerbaijani officials in Baku, including Economy and Industrial Minister Shahin Mustafaev, Minister of Finance Samir Sharifov and Governor of Central Bank Elman Rustamov.
At a press conference in Baku on Thursday, Tayebnia said his talks with Azerbaijani officials were constructive, IRNA reported.
“Promotion of bilateral cooperation and relations between Tehran and Baku will benefit both capitals as well as all regional states,” Tayyebnia said, adding that the implementation of agreements reached during President Hassan Rouhani’s visit to Azerbaijan, was one of the major goals of his visit to the neighboring country.
Lauding the two countries political ties, which he described as “friendly”, he said that economic ties between Iran and Azerbaijan are not as good as their political relations.
“The volume of trade turnover between the two countries stands at $500 million. That can, however, be multiplied due to the friendly political relations between the two countries.” Tayyebnia said.
The minister voiced Iran’s readiness to help Azerbaijan fulfill its development projects by sharing Tehran’s technical expertise with Baku.
“Iran is a proper route for transit of Azerbaijani goods to the Persian Gulf states in the southern parts of the country,” Tayyebnia added.
“The two countries’ economic ties should increase to match their good political relations,” President Ilham Aliyev said, urging the two sides to expand bilateral cooperation on banking, insurance and investment.