Turkey signs major trade, transport corridor deal

Turkey joins Lapis Lazuli transit corridor connecting Europe and Asia

Turkey signs major trade, transport corridor deal

By Zeynep Akyil and Bahattin Gonultas

ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan

Five countries -- Turkey, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Georgia -- on Wednesday signed a major international trade and transport corridor deal.

The Lapis Lazuli Corridor will begin in Afghanistan’s northern Faryab province and Turqundi in the country’s western Herat province.

It will continue to Turkmenbashi in Turkmenistan and after passing the Caspian Sea will link the Azerbaijani capital Baku to Tbilisi and Georgia’s Black Sea ports of Batumi and Poti.

It will connect with Kars in eastern Turkey before linking to Istanbul and Europe.

The corridor will connect with Turkey’s Middle Corridor Project (East-West Trans-Caspian Trade and Transport Corridor) and will compliment other regional transport corridors, such as the Five Nations Railway Corridor.

Wednesday’s agreement, which was finalized after three years of technical talks, was signed during the 7th Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan (RECCA-VII) in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan.

Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Ahmet Yildiz signed the agreement on behalf of Ankara.

Current projects to improve infrastructure and procedures across the five countries are estimated to exceed $2 billion, according to RECCA VII.

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