Iran, Iraq approach landmark agreement to connect rail systems – News
Talks between Iraq and Iran to build a short rail link between the southern port city of Basra and the city of Shalamjah, just across the border, are nearing completion, according to a tweet from the Office of Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, Prime Minister of Iraq.
Although the line would only last 30 km and cost around $ 150 million, it would be the only rail connection between the two countries and significantly improve communications in the region by connecting the Chinese belt and road lines to China. Iraq and bringing Iran closer to Syria.
The Office of the Iraqi Prime Minister tweeted Thursday: “Negotiations with Iran for the construction of a railroad between Basra and Shalamjah have reached their final stage, and we have signed 15 agreements and memoranda of understanding with Jordan and Egypt concerning the lines of ‘energy and transport. “
Funding for the project, which was approved by the Iraqi cabinet in April, will come from the Iranian Mostazafan Foundation, described as a “semi-governmental charity”.
The link, which has been the subject of discussion for many years, was first announced in November 2018, when the Islamic Republic of Iran (RAI) Railways announced they hoped to build a line. between the two cities.
The Al-Monitor news site reported at the time: “The railroad is part of the Syria reconstruction agreement… promoting religious tourism between Iran, Iraq and Syria. However, Syrian opposition parties have rejected the railroad, believing it will strengthen Iranian influence and help provide the logistics services necessary for its presence in Iraq and Syria.
Iranian news agency IRNA reported that Iraj Masjidi, Tehran’s ambassador to Baghdad, argued that the railroad could turn Iraq into a regional transport hub.
He said that Iraq could become one of the “largest transit countries in the region” and that “Iraq can be connected to China by railways from the Islamic Republic of Iran and increase its strategic importance in the region ”.
Masjidi also suggested that the railway line could lead to an expansion of Basra’s port facilities. He said: “Now only small vessels can dock in this port, but the development and equipment of the port along the dredging of the Arvand River can change the situation and contribute to the prosperity of the port and the” transit in Iraq ”.”
Image: The rail link will cross the Shatt al-Arab waterway that divides Iraq and Iran (John Wollwerth / Dreamstime)