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    RUSSIA TO ASSIST AZERBAIJAN TO JOIN AGREEMENT ON NORTH-SOUTH TRANSPORT CORRIDOR

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    MOSCOW, February 6, 2004. (RIA Novosti). In accordance with the Moscow declaration, the Russian Federation will assist Azerbaijan to join the Agreement on the North-South international transport corridor.

    The declaration was signed on Friday in Moscow by Russian and Azeri Presidents Vladimir Putin and Ilkham Aliyev.

    The North-South agreement, which was concluded on September 12, 2000 in St. Petersburg between Russia, India, Iran and Oman came into force on May 21, 2002.

    Among the particular advantages of the Agreement are short routes, low tariffs, time saving and facilitation of documentary and administrative formalities, as well as delivery of cargo through "inter-modal transportation means." It was estimated that the North-South route along which cargo shipments will go from countries of the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf across Iran, Caspian Sea, Russia into countries of Northern and Eastern Europe would be two-three times shorter than the route via the Suez Canal.

    For consignors this route will cost 15-20% less and will be 20 days shorter that the Suez option.

    In addition to Azerbaijan another 5 countries (Kazakhstan, Belarus, Armenia, Bulgaria and Bahrain) officially announced their intention to become parties to the Agreement.

    According to preliminary expert assessments, the volume of transit traffic along the North-South corridor may amount to 10 million tones a year without taking into account crude oil and petroleum products traffic.

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