YEREVN — The Armenian government announced on Wednesday that it will borrow 236 million euros ($254 million) from the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) to build a 24-kilometer section of a new highway leading to the Iranian border.

The planned 60-kilometer road will be constructed in the southeastern Syunik province bordering Iran. It will connect the provincial towns of Sisian and Kajaran through a much shorter route. This will in turn shorten travel time between the two neighboring countries.

The new Sisian-Kajaran road is to be cut through mountainous terrain. Hence, the high cost of its construction.

Work on the road’s first, southern section, which will be financed by the EBRD loan, is slated for completion in 2032. The government did not say when it will start building the two other road sections that include a 9-kilometer tunnel.

Last October, the government awarded a $215 million contact to a consortium of two Iranian companies to upgrade a 32-kilometer road stretching from the Armenian-Iranian border to the Kajaran mountain pass, the highest in Armenia. About two-thirds of the road is to be expanded and modernized while the remaining 11 kilometers will be built from scratch over the next three years.

The contract was signed in Yerevan in the presence of Iran’s Minister of Roads and Urban Development Mehrzad Bazrpash. The latter thus underscored its geopolitical significance for Tehran.

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