Sources close to the CASA-1000 negotiations indicate that the deal will finally be signed today or tomorrow in Istanbul. Officials from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan are set to convene anew to finalize the terms of the much-discussed but frequently-delayed hydroelectric transmission project. According to these same sources, one two of the major factors still being negotiated are the status of power purchase agreements between participating countries and the terms of the final, master agreement.
Some of the terms have already been established. For instance, tariffs fixed at 2.98 cents per kWh transmitted, and 5.15 cents per kWh of energy are already tentatively agreed upon, while others are close. If successful, the project will see Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan export surplus electric power to Afghanistan and Pakistan, countries with endemic power shortages that frequently suffer black outs, especially in the rural parts of each country.
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- The deputy prime minister of Kyrgyzstan announced that approximately 330 Kyrgyz citizens are currently fighting as members of the self-declared Islamic State in Syria. The statement, released yesterday, also detailed the presence of Kyrgyz citizens in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, where they are believed to be fighting alongside the Taliban and other extremist groups. Approximately 40 Kyrgyz citizens have already died during the fighting in Syria.
- The government of Turkmenistan has officially forbidden the presence of satellite dishes in the country. Officials in Ashgabat also announced that they are in the process of “demolishing” all satellite installations and that any attempts to bring international television or radio signals into the country will be a punishable offense. As we’ve documented here previously, the campaign is largely targeted at Azatlyq, a Turkmen-language service of Radio Free Europe.
- Iran’s state-controlled media announced that approximately $18 billion in funds are frozen abroad. Using language that indicated that these funds are viewed as “debts to Iran,” the article pointed out that Royal Dutch Shell, British Petroleum and companies in India and South Korea top the list of countries with payments “pending.” The article further alleges that $4 billion of these funds are due to be paid to the National Iranian Petroleum Company (NIOC), and that India, for one, will seek to negotiate the unfreezing of funds during a coming visit between the countries’ respective ministers of petroleum.
- Russia and China have announced renewed collaboration in the area of technology. A new fund totaling $200 million provided by the two countries will seek to fund new incubators and start-ups in the Russian tech industry. The funds, as described by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, will be allocated chiefly to an incubator for Russian tech companies as well as for a new robotics center in China. At least 15 Russian companies will benefit immediately from the fund.