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Yerevan, Baku Still Disagree On Transport Links


Armenia - A disused railway leading to Azerbaijan's Nakhichevan region.

Armenia and Azerbaijan continue to disagree on practical modalities of restoring their transport links, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian said on Thursday.

The issue was on the agenda of his latest talks with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev that was hosted by European Council President Charles Michel in Brussels on Wednesday.

“One of the topics of discussion was the issue of opening regional communication lines, on which we recorded some differences and agreed to continue working to find solutions,” Pashinian told his minister during a weekly cabinet meeting in Yerevan. He did not go into details.

Aliyev and Pashinian agreed to restore Armenian-Azerbaijani rail links during their previous trilateral meeting with Michel held in December. But they failed to patch up their differences on the status of a highway that would also connect Azerbaijan to its Nakhichevan exclave via Armenia’s southeastern Syunik province.

Aliyev said at the time that people and cargo passing through that “Zangezur corridor” must be exempt from Armenian border controls. Pashinian rejected the demand.

“President Michel welcomed the steps towards the restoration of railway lines, while encouraging Armenia and Azerbaijan to also find effective solutions for the restoration of road links,” the European Union said in a statement on the latest Armenian-Azerbaijani summit.

“The EU is ready to support the development of connectivity links, including in line with its Economic and Investment Plan and by utilizing the proposed economic advisory forum to identify common projects,” added the statement. It did not elaborate on that forum.

The Armenian government set up in January a task force coordinating construction of the 45-kilometer railway that will connect Nakhichevan to the rest of Azerbaijan.

The government said afterwards that it needs to sign a legally binding agreement with Baku before it can start building the railway estimated to cost about $200 million. Pashinian explained that Yerevan is seeking formal guarantees that it will be able to use Azerbaijani territory for cargo shipments to Russia and Iran.

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