Iran, Iraq discuss expanding transport cooperation

May 27, 2020 - 14:22

TEHRAN – Iranian Transport and Urban Development Minister Mohammad Eslami discussed expansion of transportation cooperation with his Iraqi counterpart over the phone, IRIB reported.

In the conversation, Eslami expressed hope that with the new Iraqi minister taking office, a new chapter will be begun in the two neighbors’ mutual cooperation.

“I am confident that with your presence in this position, we will experience a different and prosperous period,” Eslami said, adding "I am ready to meet [with you] both in Tehran and Iraq and to be able to lay the cornerstone for long-term cooperation."

Mentioning Shalamcheh-Basra railway project, the Iranian official said, "We have completed the railway to Shalamcheh for many years and I declare my readiness to invest in the completion of the project from Shalamcheh to Basra.”

The minister further noted that Iran has 24 border crossing points with neighboring countries, adding: "We are implementing healthcare and safety protocols in all these terminals, and we hope that after the Eid al-Fitr holidays, trade relations will be resumed from land borders.”

Mentioning the new Iraqi minister’s background in the country’s aviation sector, Eslami said: "Fortunately, the number of flights between the two countries has been good, and we expect the flights to resume after the pandemic conditions are alleviated, and our people will be able to travel to each other’s countries.”

The Iraqi minister for his part expressed hope that several meetings would be held to advance relations between the two sides and complete the joint railway project.

“We will try to get this [Shalamcheh-Basra railway project] done as soon as possible and we will hold a joint meeting as soon as possible,” he said.

The Iraqi transport minister also said that in the near future, the borders between the two countries will be opened, the most important of which are railways and air communication.

“We are also renewing and amending previously signed agreements in line with the interests of the people of both countries,” he added.

In order to complete the Shalamcheh-Basra railroad, the 17-kilometer Khorramshahr-Shalamcheh railroad project was completed in 2011 to connect the Iranian railroads to Iraq, and it was decided to join the city of Basra.

To build the railroad, the Iraqi side was to take measures inside Iraq from Shalamcheh to Basra, but due to economic problems and a shortage of funds, the Iraqi government has so far refused to build this part of Shalamcheh’s railroad to Basra.

To complete the rail project, according to an earlier agreement reached with Iraqi authorities, Iran will construct a 700-meter bridge on Arvand River for the railroad to pass above the river and reach Basra Train Station after 32 kilometers.

Iran and Iraq have been taking significant steps for boosting economic relations in the past few years.

The two countries are following up plans for increasing their bilateral economic trade to over $20 billion.

Last March, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani headed a high-ranking political and trade delegation in a visit to Iraq, during which the two sides inked several agreements and emphasized the expansion of trade ties.

EF/MA

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