Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Turkmen, Moslems Forge Bank Link

REUTERS ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan -- The former Soviet republic of Turkmenistan has forged its first links with the Islamic Development Bank, the official Turkmenpress said Wednesday. The Central Asian state has agreed to launch jointly with the Saudi-based Islamic bank a tender restricted to the Moslem world to build a 270-kilometer canal in Turkmenistan. The tender, financed solely by the 47-member bank set up in 1975 to help finance development projects and trade among Moslem states, is being issued to companies in Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Pakistan, Jordan and Iran, Turkmenpress said. It was not clear how finance will be raised to pay companies to complete the project. The Western world has looked on with concern as Turkmenistan has forged increasingly close links with Iran and the rest of the Moslem world since the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. Russia, however, remains by far the most influential foreign nation here. The envisaged canal would water a large area in the southwest of Turkmenistan bordering Iran. Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov hopes this area, now an arid waste, will blossom into a fruit-growing tropical haven.