Iran welcomes arrival of first Silk Road train

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President of Iranian Railways has welcomed arrival of the first cargo train in Iran from China.

Iran’s Deputy Minister for Transport, Roads and Urban Development and President of Iranian Railways Mohsen Pour Seyed Aghaei made the welcome remarks in a ceremony held to celebrate the arrival of a cargo train with the presence of China and Turkmenistan ambassadors.

Arrival of the first cargo train to Iranian capital, Tehran means revival of the Silk Road, he added.

If the cargo was transported via sea, it would take at least 30 days but it took less than two weeks through the Silk Road, the official said.

The first cargo train that left China almost a fortnight ago arrived in Tehran on Monday morning.

Iran’s media reported on Sunday that the train has already entered the country through the northeastern Sarakhs border point.

It is carrying 32 containers each with a capacity of 40 square feet and has passed through Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan before reaching Iran.

The train left China from the trading hub of Yiwu in the northwestern province of Xinjiang on 29 January. Its trip plan was to cover a distance of over 10,000 kilometers within 14 days.

This will be part of a Chinese initiative to revive the ancient Silk Road through which traders traveled from Europe to East Asia.

In 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping introduced the new ‘Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Maritime Silk Road’ initiative to connect stronger logistics networks with Asia, Africa and Europe by building more roads, railways and airports.

Beijing has launched the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) with $100 billion in capital and the New Silk Road Fund with a capital of $40 billion to fund major infrastructure projects in the region, including those pertaining to the development of the New Silk Road.

Iran is strategically-located in the Middle East, sharing land borders with 15 nations, and sea channels on its northern and southwestern coasts. China sees Iran as a country that can play a crucial role in China’s New Silk Road initiative given its access to extensive delivery routes connecting the Middle East and Eurasia.

Tehran has already pledged to support the New Silk Road initiative with an investment of $6 billion for the next six years, the Chinese media have reported.

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