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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

RZD Looks to Help Build Afghan Railway

Russia is looking to help Afghanistan build a rail infrastructure, now virtually nonexistent, the Russian Railway Co., or RZD, said.

Railways Minister Vadim Morozov and RZD vice president Vladimir Yakunin met with Afghan Transportation Minister Mohammed Ali Jawad Wednesday.

They agreed to set up a working group to carry out a feasibility study of a rail project and draw up a blueprint for a future railroad, RZD said in a statement.

90 percent of freight between the two countries is shipped by rail, though Afghanistan has only a five-kilometer track to Turkmenistan and rail access over a bridge to Uzbekistan.

Afghanistan imported by rail 86,000 tons of cargo last year. Cargo transiting Russia to Afghanistan in the first 10 months of this year came to 28,400 tons.

"RZD is ready to take part in building rail infrastructure in Afghanistan fully," Morozov said in a statement.

Yakunin said that an international consortium will have to be created for designing and then operating the road.

Analysts said that building a railroad would benefit both countries. "It will increase traffic and galvanize economic ties between the countries, rubbing off on Russian industries such as metallurgy," said Alla Uvarova, a specialist with Business System Development.