Friday, July 12, 2024

US expresses concern over Iran-Russia cooperation on building railway line

US State Department deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel voiced Washington's concern over cooperation between Tehran and Moscow in a major railroad project, known as the Rasht-Astara railway.

“Any steps or any project being undertaken to go around sanctions is something that we of course would find deeply concerning,” he told reporters on Wednesday.

“I don’t have an assessment to make on this specific project, but there is a reason that we enforce such a strict sanctions regime, and any efforts to go around those would be of immense concern to us,” the spokesman added.

Earlier, Iran and Russia signed an agreement on the construction of the Rasht-Astara railway, a strategic transport corridor that connects the existing railways of the two countries and Azerbaijan.

Iranian transport minister Mehrdad Bazrpash and his Russian counterpart Vitaly Savelyev put their signatures on the deal worth $1.6 billion during a ceremony in Tehran on Wednesday. Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin oversaw the event in person and via video-link.

The 162-kilometer railway will connect the Iranian city of Rasht, near the Caspian Sea, to Astara on the border with Azerbaijan.

Addressing the ceremony, Raisi described the deal as “an important and strategic step in the direction of Iran-Russia cooperation,” adding that it will help boost trade and economy in the region.

“Iran and Russia are cooperating in different fields. Today’s [railway construction] deal is one of the manifestations of cooperation not only between the two countries, but also other states on the path of the INSTC,” he said.

The Russian president, for his part, said the Rasht-Astara railway would help connect Russian ports on the Baltic Sea with Iranian ports in the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf.

“The unique North-South transport artery, of which the Rasht-Astara railway will become a part, will help to significantly diversify global traffic flows,” Putin added.

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