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DUSHANBE: A $1.2 billion western-backed project to build a power line between Central Asia and South Asia has been stalled by turmoil in Afghanistan, a project official told Reuters on Friday. The CASA-1000 project aims to allow Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, former Soviet republics with an extensive network of hydroelectric power plants, to sell excess energy to Pakistan and Afghanistan in the summer months.

Faizali Samiyev, the head of the Tajik project implementation office, said work on the project, originally scheduled to be completed next year, continued in three countries, but not in Afghanistan.

While the World Bank, a key CASA-1000 backer, continues financing projects in Afghanistan, it has decided to focus on urgently needed education, agriculture, health and family programmes and bypass sanctioned Taliban authorities by disbursing the money through United Nations agencies and international aid groups.

Funding for the CASA-1000 project - which was designed to provide Pakistan with 1,000 megawatts (MW) of power and Afghanistan with 300 MW - has been suspended, Samiyev said.

CASA-1000: NTDC seeks $35m financing

“(We hope that) contacts will be established with the Afghan side and ways to implement the project will be worked out,” he said.

The project could be a boon for the two Central Asian nations which have excess power in the summer but suffer from shortages in the winter unless they can buy fuel or power from neighbours.

The United States was involved in financing the project when it was launched in 2016 as part of its New Silk Road initiative to integrate Afghanistan with Central Asia. Other project sponsors have included the Islamic Development Bank, the UK Department for International Development, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

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