Turkmenistan, Tajikistan At Odds Over Railway Remark

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Turkmenistan has expressed concern after a Tajik official reportedly spoke of plans to potentially open a railway line to Russia that would bypass Turkmen territory.

In a statement issued on January 25, Turkmenistan's Foreign Ministry said that the reported statement by a deputy chief of the Tajik Railways company, Usmon Kalandarov, was "unethical."

Media reports in Tajikistan quoted Kalandarov as saying publicly on January 24 that Tajikistan was discussing the possibility of opening a new railway line linking Tajikistan with Russia via Uzbekistan, bypassing Turkmenistan.

Turkmenistan's Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying that such remarks were not conducive to the further development of bilateral and regional ties, and suggesting that Tajikistan disavow the comment.

It said that Turkmenistan and Tajikistan were involved in a project to build a Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Tajikistan railway line, and that Turkmenistan completed the first phase of construction in November.

The statement expressed the readiness of Turkmenistan to continue cooperation with Tajikistan and its hope that Tajikistan will "look into unacceptance of the unfriendly statement by Tajik officials."

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