Source: Agence France-Presse (AFP)
Date: 2 Nov 2002

Aga Khan to open Tajik-Afghan bridge

DUSHANBE, Nov 2 (AFP) - The Aga Khan, the billionaire spiritual leader of the world's 15 million Ismaili Muslims, is due on Sunday to open a bridge he has financed linking Tajikistan to neighbouring Afghanistan across the Pyandzh river.

The 135-metre (305-foot) bridge joins southern Takijistan and the northeastern Afghan province of Badakhshan.

It will enable humanitarian aid to be brought to Afghanistan from Kyrgyzstan, north of Tajikistan, via the Tajik town of Khorog, the Aga Khan said when he arrived in Dushanbe on Saturday.

Prince Karim Aga Khan, who set up an apolitical, secular development foundation in 1967, held talks with President Emomali Rahmomov on Saturday.

He is to finance four more bridges across the 1,340-kilometre (840-mile) border between the two Central Asian states. The overall project is slated to take three years and cost a total 2.5 million dollars (euros).

Tajikistan, formerly part of the Soviet Union, is a key access point for aid to war-ravaged Afghanistan. At present, much of it is brought acrss the Pyandzh by barge.

An important road has been opened between the Tajik capital and Kunduz, in northeast Afghanistan.

Dushanbe supported Afghanistan's Northern Alliance fighters, which toppled the draconian Taliban regime a year ago with the help of the United States.

ab-lpt/gil/mkh AFP
Copyright (c) 2002 Agence France-Presse
Received by NewsEdge Insight: 11/02/2002 16:38:47