YEREVAN — The Armenian government has set up a task force that will coordinate work on the restoration of the railway tracks from Yeraskh (Ararat province of Armenia) to the border with Nakhichevan exclave of Azerbaijan and across the Meghri sub-region of the southern Armenian province of Syunik. The decision to that effect has been published on the website of the Armenian government.

The 10-member working group is led by Artashes Tumanyan, a former ambassador to Iran, who was appointed as advisor to Pashinyan after his resignation. Tumanyan is to report on the progress of the work to the Prime Minister every three months. On January 14 Pashinyan dispatched Tumanyan to Meghri for a 4-day business trip. The task force formed by Pashinyan’s government late last week is to deal with practical modalities of the transport project.

Deputy Prime Minister Mher Grigoryan told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service that the construction of the 45-kilometer railway section will likely cost Yerevan $200 million and take about three years. But Grigoryan did not say when it will start.

During their December 14 meeting in Brussels initiated by European Council President Charles Michel, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev reconfirmed their earlier agreement to restore the railway that used to run from Armenian Yeraskh to Julfa and Ordubad in Nakhichevan and from there to Armenian Meghri. When restored the railroad will stretch to Horadiz in Azerbaijan proper.

According to Pashinyan, the railroad will operate in accordance with accepted international border and customs rules on the principle of reciprocity under the sovereignty and jurisdiction of the countries.

Armenia will gain access to Iran and Russia through this railroad, and Azerbaijan will have a railway connection to its exclave Nakhichevan.

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