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India Joins Ashgabat Agreement

Saturday 3 February 2018

NEW DELHI (The Stateman) — In a move that will strengthen India’s connectivity with Central Asia, New Delhi, has been admitted to the Agreement on the Establishment of an International Transport and Transit Corridor between the Governments of Iran, Oman, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

India is making a concerted push into Central Asia by taking charge of a crucial transportation network through Iran into the region and beyond. Indeed, with Pakistan in a state of almost chronic instability, India can never hope to access Central Asia through Pakistan. Its best bet remains Iran. While India will have to reduce oil imports from Iran, building a big-ticket infrastructure corridor is a reaffirmation of its commitment to the relationship.

Turkmenistan, as depository State of the Ashgabat Agreement signed in 2011, has informed India that all the four founding members have consented to its accession to the agreement which would come into force Saturday.

The Ashgabat Agreement envisages facilitation of transit and transportation of goods between Central Asia and the Persian Gulf. Accession to the agreement would diversify India’s connectivity options with Central Asia and have a positive influence on the country’s trade and commercial ties with the resource-rich region, Indian officials say.

The Ashgabat Agreement will also synchronise with the International North-South Transport Corridor encompassing Ship, rail including Trans-Caspian railway, and road route for moving freight between India, Russia, Iran, Europe and Central Asia. The route primarily involves moving freight from India, Iran, Azerbaijan and Russia via ship, rail and road.

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