Iran, Iraq discuss joining railway networks

March 7, 2021 - 14:7

TEHRAN – Iranian Transport and Urban Development Minister Mohammad Eslami met with his Iraqi counterpart Nasser Al-Shibli on Saturday to discuss expanding transport cooperation, especially joining of the two countries’ railway networks.

As IRNA reported, the issues regarding the connection of the railway from Iran’s Shalamcheh to Basra province in Iraq was the main issue explored in the meeting, while improving the quality of land, sea, air, and rail transportation was also explored by the officials.

Speaking in the event, Al-Shibli announced Iraq's readiness to work on a transit system with the Iranian side, based on administrative instructions for transit cooperation with Iraq’s other neighboring countries such as Turkey, Syria, and Jordan.

He went on to announce plans to hold meetings for resolving the remaining issues and finalizing an agreement in this regard between the two sides.

Eslami for his part pointed to transportation as “vital for trade", and expressed the Islamic Republic of Iran’s readiness to strengthen transport relations between the two neighboring countries in order to improve mutual economic cooperation.

Heading a delegation, Eslami arrived in Baghdad on Saturday morning to meet with Iraqi officials and follow up on previously reached agreements for cooperation in various transportation fields.

Head of the Islamic Republic of Iran Railways (known as RAI) Saeid Rasouli also accompanied Eslami in his visit to Iraq.

Back in May 2020, Eslami had discussed the expansion of transportation cooperation with his Iraqi counterpart over the phone.

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.”

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.

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.

In March 2019, 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.


Photo: Transport Minister Mohammad Eslami (5th L) and RAI Head Saeid Rasouli (3rd L) meet with Iraqi officials in Baghdad on Saturday.

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