MINERALNYE VODY, May 3. /TASS/. A bilateral agreement between Russia and Iran on construction of the Rasht-Astara section in Iran may be signed in May, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak told reporters on Wednesday.
"We just discussed the signing of a bilateral agreement between the two countries on extension of the Rasht-Astara railroad with [Iranian] Ambassador. Hopefully it will be done [agreement will be signed] as early as in May as we have agreed almost on everything. Agreement procedures are underway now," he said on the sidelines of the Caucasus Investment Exhibition in Mineralnye Vody. "It is a very important step <…> to connect railroad infrastructure of Russia and Iran," Novak added.
Iranian Ambassador to Moscow Kazem Jalali said earlier that the signing of the agreement on construction of the Rasht-Astara section was expected in the near future.
First Deputy Managing Director of Russian Railways Sergey Pavlov said in March that the construction was estimated at around $1.6 bln. According to the Iranian side’s design decisions, the construction of the Rasht-Astara section will take four years, though Pavlov did not rule out the possibility of the term’s reduction.
The project is aimed at connecting the land sections of the International North-South Transport Corridor, which will permit raising the economic efficiency of the trans-Caspian route. Some 170 km long, the Rasht-Astara line is planned to be constructed by Moscow and Tehran. Meanwhile the line connecting the Iranian city of Astara and the Azerbaijani city of Astara will be built by Moscow, Tehran and Baku.
The Caucasus Investment Exhibition is taking place from May 3 to 4 at MinvodyExpo in the city of Mineralnye Vody. The exhibition is aimed at developing the regions that make up the North Caucasus Federal District. The event brings together key investors, initiators of investment projects, development institutions and banks in the North Caucasus, with experts, entrepreneurs and manufacturers presenting new economic vectors and business ideas, as well as current development trends and strategies. The event is supported by the Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation and organized by the Roscongress Foundation, while Northern Caucasus Resorts is its strategic partner. TASS is the event’s information partner.