Iran, Russia sign $1.6bln agreement to build Rasht-Astara railway
The Iranian President describes the agreement as "a major and strategic development" in cooperation between Iran and Russia.
Iran and Russia signed on Wednesday an agreement worth $1.6 billion to build the Rasht-Astara railway, a project in northern Iran that will be key to the transit of cargo through the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC).
Iran’s Minister of Roads and Urban Development Mehrdad Bazrpash and Russia’s Minister of Transport Vitaly Saveliev signed the agreement in Tehran in a ceremony that was attended by Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi.
Russian President Vladimir Putin attended via a video conference link.
According to the state-run Iranian news agency IRNA, the 162-kilometer railway will connect the Iranian city of Rasht near the Caspian Sea to Astara on the border with Azerbaijan.
The agency explained that once completed, the Rasht-Astara railway will allow rail freight transport from the Gulf to Helsinki in Finland via Russia's Saint Petersburg.
Raisi described the agreement as "a major and strategic development" in cooperation between Iran and Russia.
The Iranian President thanked his Russian counterpart for supporting the project, pointing out that the completion of the INSTC would benefit not only the two nations but also all countries in the region.
Read more: Russia interested in Iran aircraft industry experience under sanctions
On his part, Putin said the launch of the Rasht-Astara railway in Iran will allow diversifying global traffic flows, adding that such transportation will have competitive advantages.
The Russian President expressed Moscow's hope that the agreement between Russia, Iran, and Azerbaijan on cooperation in the development of railway and cargo transportation will be signed promptly.
He indicated that the INSTC corridor will play a major role in guaranteeing food security in Iran and countries in the Gulf region.
Putin highlighted that Russian-Iranian relations are at their highest level, emphasizing that Moscow pays special attention to ties with Tehran.
Elsewhere, the Russian President thanked Iranian leader Sayyed Ali Khamenei for his support for the growing ties between the two countries.
Read more: Region entered a new era of joint cooperation: Iran FM