Tajik Minister of Transport and Roads Hayrullo Asozodas announced that his country, along with Turkmenistan and Afghanistan, have agreed to the final set of terms that would precede the construction of a multinational railway that would connect Tajikistan and Turkmenistan by way of Afghanistan. The railway project has been in the works since 2013, when the three sides signed a memorandum of understanding, and has begun to pick up steam in the last few weeks. Tajik officials have reported the negotiations over the rail’s specifics are currently underway with Turkmenistan, and that the final agreement is set to be signed in Dushanbe upon the completion of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which will be held later this month.
Tajikistan has been forced to look for alternate overland transport routes due to the state of its relations with Uzbekistan, which are currently very poor. Goods bound for Tajikistan that cross through Uzbek territory are blockaded and sometimes held for ransom and resale, usually at exorbitantly high prices. The new route will allow for greater regional integration and increased trade with Turkmenistan, which is positioning itself as a gateway between Central and South Asian states and Russia, the historically most important investor in the region.
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- Iran and the P5+1 agreed to a four month extension of talks centered on the Iranian nuclear program, fixing a deadline of late November. The progress of the negotiations had seemingly ground to a halt recently, necessitating an emergency visit by Western foreign ministers, including U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. Currently suspended sanctions against Iran will remain suspended, and Iran will continue to have access to billions in previously frozen funds. In return, Tehran has agreed to convert 100 of the uranium enriched to 20% to fuel, a change from the previously agreed upon 50%.
- Uzbekistan experienced a significant jump in its GDP between January and June of 2014, measuring an 8.1% increase when compared to the same period of 2013. Uzbek Prime Minister Shaukat Mirziyoev announced that the country experience similarly optimistic jumps in agricultural production, construction and foreign investment. Uzbek officials estimate that overall growth in GDP will exceed 8% in 2014, a figure consistent with international predictions.
- Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev has approved a new law that will allow the government to record the biometric data of all Kyrgyz citizens over the age of 16 starting in August of 2015. The law will be implemented in part to allow for the creation of a digital voting registry and for the eventual utilization of biometric passports.
- The Ukrainian government has claimed that it can furnish evidence demonstrating Russia’s culpability for the missile attack which brought down flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine. Malaysian sources also repot that Kiev has brought accusations against Russia of meddling with the scene of the crash and preventing international rescue workers from accessing the wreckage. Open Encyclopedia Wikipedia has reported that bots designed to document when Russian government IP Addresses make change to encyclopedia entries show Russian responsibility for altering Russian-language entries on flight MH17, shifting the responsibility from Russia-backed separatists to Ukrainian military.
- Afghanistan has expressed concern over the security of its own airspace following the missile attack on Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17. Following the attack, India’s SpiceJet cancelled all flights to Afghanistan, leading Afghan authorities to speculate that further cancellations may be in the works, especially now that various regional and international airliners have begun to circumnavigate vast swaths of Ukrainian airspace.