The Uzbek government is set to join Kyrgyzstan in offering its backing to plans to build a railway linking the two Central Asian states to China. The route will open the way for Chinese consumer goods to flow into the region, while shipping commodities back east.
Speaking at a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Bishkek on November 13, Uzbekistans's Deputy Minister of Foreign Economic Relations, Investments and Trade Bakhtiar Abdusamatov reiterated Tashkent's support for the planned railway, which will terminate in the Uzbek Fergana valley, Kabar reports.
China and Kyrgyzstan are already firmly behind the project to build the $2bn railway, both governments indicated earlier this year. One of the first steps Kyrgyz Prime Minister Zhantoro Satybaldiyev took after his appointment in September was to assure Chinese officials that his government would continue to support the project linking the Central Asian states to their giant neighbour. Kyrgyz government officials suggested at the time that talks on the project could be completed by the end of the year.
The route will run from the Chinese market town of Kashagar across Kyrgyzstan, and enter Uzbekistan near Kara-Suu - Kyrgyzstan's second largest bazaar - to connect to the main Uzbek rail network at Andijan. The direct rail link to Kara-Suu will offer China access to a regional distribution hub for consumer goods. It would also give the Asian giant better access to Uzbek uranium and other commodities.
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