May 17, 2021 | real estate

Railway project to connect Iraq to China through Iran, ambassador says


ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Iraq could become linked with China through Iran’s railways, the Iranian ambassador told Iraqi tribal leaders on Saturday, following Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi’s announcement of a railway project to connect Iraq and Iran.

“Iraq can connect to China through the railways of the Islamic Republic of Iran and increase its strategic importance in the region,” Iraj Masjedi, Iran’s ambassador to Iraq, said according to the country’s state media. The statement came following a meeting with tribal leaders from Baghdad, Erbil and Anbar provinces.

Kadhimi announced on Thursday the final rounds of negotiations with Iran over the construction of a railway between Basra and the southwestern Iranian town of Shalamcheh.

The head of the Iraqi Republic Railways Company of the Ministry of Transport on Sunday expressed optimism toward putting the railway project to work, calling it a “vital strategic line.”

“The link will reach the implementation stage in the coming days after the government announces its approval,” Talib Jawad al-Husseini told state media.

Masjedi also announced Iran has two power plants under construction in Iraq in an attempt to alleviate the electricity shortage in the country.

“Iraq is now importing from Iran and other countries,” Masjedi stated. “There is a shortage of at least 20,000 megawatts of electricity and the launch of new power plants will solve the country’s problem, especially in the southern provinces of Basra, Dhi Qar and [the city of] Samawah.'

Iran substantially reduced its natural gas exports to Iraq in December, threatening to plunge parts of the country into darkness as the National Iranian Gas Company announced the Iraqi government owed five billion dollars of gas supplies, in addition to a billion dollars over the delay of the repayment of debt.

Iraqi Minister of Finance Ali Allawi said on April 12 that Baghdad would “soon” pay debts owed to Tehran for gas and electricity imports following a meeting in Tehran with Iran’s Minister of Cooperation, Labor and Social Welfare.

Electricity Spokesperson Ahmed Mousa told state media in April that Iraq currently imports 20 million cubic meters of natural gas from Iran per day but will return to its original amount of 50 million cubic meters.

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