Source: Tajik Television first channel, Dushanbe, in Tajik 1300 gmt 3 Nov 02
BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom;
Nov 03, 2002

Senior Tajik, Afghan officials, Prince Aga Khan open Tajik-Afghan bridge

Another glorious event of historic importance took place in Tajikistan today. Our correspondent reports.

[Correspondent] The first permanent bridge linking Tajikistan and Afghanistan was commissioned in [eastern Mountainous] Badakhshon [Autonomous Region] today. President Emomali Rahmonov attended a ceremony held to open the bridge. Relations between Tajikistan and Afghanistan are expanding continually, and the construction of the first bridge in Badakhshon linking the two countries is clear evidence of these words. The construction of the first permanent bridge between Tajikistan and Afghanistan, which started in December last year, has been completed.

A ceremony was held today, 3 November, to mark this event. Tajik President Emomali Rahmonov arrived in Khorugh this morning to open the bridge. The head of state was accompanied by [the visiting] vice-president of the Transitional Islamic State of Afghanistan, Hedayat Amin Arsala, and Prince Karim Aga Khan IV. A large group of officials from foreign embassies and international organizations accredited to Dushanbe also arrived in Badakhshon.

It should be noted that the permanent bridge between the two countries was built on the Tajik government's initiative and funded by the Aga Khan Foundation. The bridge was built by Badakhshonroh [Tajik: Badakhshon Road] production association. Its length is 135 m, width is 3.5 m and cargo capacity is 25 t.

[Passage omitted: repeat of facts]

A ceremony was held to mark this important event. The chairman of Mountainous Badakhshon Autonomous Region, Alimamad Niyozmamadov, opened the ceremony. President Emomali Rahmonov congratulated the participants of the ceremony on this pleasant historic event. He recalled that the construction of the bridge would mark the beginning of the postwar restoration in Afghanistan. It will create new impetus in developing economic relations in the region, particularly in creating a unified main road and in strengthening the region's geopolitical, economic and commercial role. Emomali Rahmonov said that Tajikistan was providing Afghanistan with electricity and assisting in restoring electric power lines there and that Tajikistan was interested in boosting cooperation in the fields of industry and agriculture.

[Passage to end omitted: Prince Aga Khan IV and Hedayat Amin Arsala praised the bridge, no details of their speech; Rahmonov and his entourage returned to Dushanbe] [Video shows a bridge, President Rahmonov, Aga Khan IV, Arsala walking on the bridge, a meeting]

Source: Tajik Television first channel, Dushanbe, in Tajik 1300 gmt 3 Nov 02

BBC Monitoring