Dushanbe, February 16 (RIA Novosti) - Joint energy projects will be at the focus of a meeting between the energy ministers of Tajikistan, Iran and Afghanistan on Monday, a Tajik official said Thursday.
The discussion in the Tajik capital, Dushanbe, will cover a $200-million project to build a high-voltage electricity transmission line to export energy from Tajikistan's Sangtuda hydroelectric power plant to Iran via Afghanistan within five years, the press service of Tajikistan's energy minister said.
Iran, which is currently at the center of the world's attention for its controversial nuclear energy plans, will officially start the construction of the Sangtuda-2 plant on February 20.
Russia and Tajikistan began discussing the Sangtuda project in 2003, and Iran joined the negotiations in September 2004.
In January 2005, Russia, Tajikistan and Iran signed a protocol to complete the plants, with Russia helping Tajikistan complete Sangtuda-1 project and Iran Sangtuda-2.
Under the agreement, Iran will reap the profits from Sangtuda-2 for 12 and a half years, and then the plant will come into Tajikistan's property.
The Sangtuda projects and the Rogunskaya plant currently being built near Dushanbe will allow the republic to increase its annual electric power output from 16 to 34 billion kilowatts and to export surplus energy to South Kazakhstan, Russia, China, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and India.
The three ministers will also discuss electric power imports from Tajikistan to Afghanistan in the summer period.
After the negotiations, Tajikistan's Dzhurabek Nurmakhmadov, Afghanistan's Ismail Khan and Iran's Parviz Fatah are expected to sign a protocol on trilateral cooperation.
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Iran has been a central Russian ally in the Middle East, despite considerable tensions between the two. But by renewing dialogue with the West, the new Iranian leadership has chosen another direction. The shifting terrain in the region creates new strategic, political and economic challenges for Russia.