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Russia May Help Supply Electricity to Afghanistan, Pakistan

Russia may join an international project to supply Pakistan and Afghanistan with power from Central Asia, as the Kremlin seeks to regain influence in the region.

President Dmitry Medvedev discussed the project with his counterparts from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan, the Russian Energy Ministry said in an e-mailed statement today. Medvedev hosted a regional summit yesterday in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, the two poorest former Soviet republics, are planning to build transmission lines that will supply Pakistan and Afghanistan during times of surplus power.

While the Soviet Union waged a 10-year war in Afghanistan, it also built energy and transportation infrastructure. Russia lost clout in the region after the five Central Asian republics declared independence in 1991. Medvedev said it “makes sense” for Russia to return to Soviet-era projects, according to the statement.

The regional electricity project, dubbed CASA-1000, is backed by the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank and the Islamic Development Bank. In its first stage, it would supply 1,000 megawatts from Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to Pakistan and 300 megawatts to Afghanistan.

Medvedev met yesterday with Afghanistan’s Hamid Karzai, Pakistan’s Asif Ali Zardari and Tajikistan’s Emomali Rakhmon.

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