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    Iraqi PM sets cornerstone for joint railway project with Iran


    Sep 2, 2023

    BAGHDAD — Prime Minister Mohammad Al-Sudani attended a ceremony on Saturday near the Shalamcheh border crossing with Iran, setting the cornerstone for a railway project linking the two countries.

    A statement by the Prime Minister’s office said that Al-Sudani stressed the importance of the project, which would enable people to travel from Iran and Central Asian country to Iraq and vice versa.

    He noted that the project, agreed upon by both parties in 2021, would develop Iraq’s infrastructure, revealing that his government would finalize the finer details of the project and would be added to the agenda of the Ministry of Planning.

    Al-Sudani said the Shalamcheh border crossing —- southeast of Iraq — is part of various entry points that would contribute to the project, leading to stations in Al-Najaf and Karbala provinces.

    The prime minister did not reveal further details regarding the cost of the project, stages of completion, or its length.

    The Iraq-Iran railway-linking project is the second strategic transport project under way. It is similar to the proposed project linking Al-Faw seaport and Basra province on one side and all the way up to Turkiye.

    Iran’s First Vice President Mohammad Mokhber attended the foundation stone laying ceremony of the cross-border railway line connecting the two neighboring countries.

    Mokhber and Al-Sudani met on Saturday on the common border to launch the construction of the joint railway project.

    Speaking at the ceremony, the two top officials discussed bilateral cooperation and highlighted the importance of the project, before launching the executive operation of the construction of the railway project.

    The railway, which is 32 kilometers long and split evenly between the two countries, is expected to be completed in 18 months.

    Iran is responsible for demining and building a bridge over the Arvand River in Basra, while Iraq is to handle the substructure and pavement work for the entire project. The Iraqi government has allocated about $200 million for the project.

    Mokhber described the Shalamcheh-Basra railway as a “strategic plan” for both Iran and Iraq that would transform the West Asia region. In addition to connecting the two countries’ railways, it will also complete international transportation routes, he added.

    The railway project “aims to facilitate the movement of passengers and visitors between the two countries and is considered vital for enhancing connectivity and transportation efficiency in the region.”

    The railway, which will be 32 kilometers long, is set to link the city of Basra with the Iranian border town of Shalamcheh and will have the capacity to transport 3 million passengers per year. It will cost around $100-120 million to complete.

    The Iranian vice president also revealed that the project will connect Iran to the Mediterranean, specifically Jordan and Syria. — Agencies

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