Monday, January 25, 2010

Turkey to build $20 billion Turkey-Pakistan Rail Link !

Turkey interested in building Diamer-Bhasha Dam

Pakistan and Turkey agreed on Monday to undertake a $20 billion project to upgrade a railway link from Islamabad to Istanbul, basically to speedily transport cargo from Pakistan to Turkey and ultimately to Europe.

This was decided in a meeting between President Asif Ali Zardari and his Turkish counterpart, Abdullah Gul. The meeting continued for over an hour as President Abdullah Gul said three companies of his country were interested in constructing the Diamer-Bhasha Dam in Pakistan.

President Zardari is on a four-day visit to Turkey to attend the Trilateral Summit as well as the Istanbul Summit on the Afghan issue, besides discussing bilateral matters with Turkish leaders.

The five-year rail project envisages to curtail travel time between Islamabad and Istanbul, via Tehran, from the current 11 days to ultimately three-four days, as a track between the two cities already existed, but the facilities available requires an upgrade.

Emphasising that Pakistan and Turkey needed to intensify cooperation in various fields, with a focus on economic ties, President Zardari said the rail link of Pakistan with Turkey, via Tehran, would play a crucial role in achieving these objectives.

“Transportation of cargo by air has become expensive, while sea trade is normally slow,” President Zardari said. “So, the cargo rail link could provide a quick option to expand economic ties between the two countries as well as with Iran.”

A comprehensive presentation was given to the Pakistani and Turkish presidents on the 6,566-kilometre rail project from Islamabad to Istanbul, via Tehran, with 1,990-kilometre track situated in Pakistan, 2,570-kilometre track in Iran and 2,006-kilometre track in Turkey.

“This rail link will strengthen Pakistan’s economic as well as people-to-people contacts with not only brotherly Muslim countries, but also with the European countries,” said President Zardari, who floated the Islamabad-Istanbul cargo train idea last year when an experimental train was run on the route on August 14.

He stressed that the areas around the rail track should also be developed, so that benefits of increased trade could be passed on to the respective people. Zardari stressed the business community of Turkey to not only enhance trade ties with Pakistan, but also to take advantage of the lucrative investment opportunities in his country.

Turkish President Abdullah Gul said that besides constructing the Diamar-Bhasha Dam through its private sector, Turkey also planned to open a branch of a Turkish bank in Pakistan, probably in Islamabad.

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