Armenia Can Fund Iran-Armenia Railway, Says Hovannesian

YEREVAN (Combined Sources)–Armenia can fund the construction of a railroad linking it to Iran, Armenian Revolutionary Federation Bureau member Vahan Hovannesian said during a press conference on Saturday.

According to Hovannesian, who is also the head of the ARF’s parliamentary faction, the new railroad will also help avoid Armenia’s transport dependence on Georgia.

This is the only way to connect the country to the outside world now, he said, adding that the construction of the railroad will require 1 billion drams.

Earlier, the Minister of Transport and Communication Gurgen Sargsyan reported that President Serzh Sarkisian instructed the government to set up a commission to study the construction of the Armenia-Iran railroad.

The Commission is to select the best project out of the three available projects. According to the preliminary estimates, the most advantageous scenario is the Gagarin Station, which uses the Gavar-Martuni-Jermuk route. This is the shortest distance from Iran to Vanadzor and then to Georgia.

In related news, Tehran and Yerevan are scheduled to hold talks in a bid to remove obstacles in the way of natural gas exports from Iran to Armenia.

The statement comes as the Armenian national gas distribution company said on Monday that Georgia had abruptly reduced the volume of Russian natural gas shipped to Armenia via Georgian territory.

"There has been a reduction of gas delivered to Armenia from Russia via Georgia," ArmRosGazprom spokeswoman Shushan Sardarian told AFP news agency. She said a 30-percent supply reduction occurred with no advance warning.

The head of the gas export operation office of the National Iranian Gas Company (NIGC), Rasoul Salmani, said on Monday that the talks would take place in Armenia on August 20.

Tehran and Yerevan are currently constructing a 140-km pipeline to carry natural gas from gas-abundant Iran to Armenia.

Once completed, the 220-million-dollar pipeline would provide Armenia with an alternative to the gas it now imports from Russia. For each cubic meter of Iranian gas, Armenia will return 3 kilowatt hours of electricity to Iran.

In June, Armenia’s Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, Armen Movsisyan, said that Russian energy giant Gazprom would invest more than 200 million dollars in the construction of the pipeline.

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