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Iran, Iraq reach initial deal on building 354km highway


News   /   Economy

Iran, Iraq reach initial deal on building 354km highway: Minister

Wednesday, 10 June 2020 4:11 PM  [ Last Update: Wednesday, 10 June 2020 4:11 PM ]

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)

Iran and Iraq have finalized initial plans to build a 354-kilometer highway connecting the two neighbors.

Iran’s minister of transportation says an initial deal has been reached with the neighboring Iraq to build a long highway that would ease traffic across the border and would help boost trade between the two neighboring countries.

Mohammad Eslami said on Wednesday that the 354-kilometer highway would connect the city of Mehran on the western Iranian border to the holy city of Najaf in central Iraq.

“The Mehran-Najaf Highway could be a high-potential road for transit and trade exchanges between the two countries in addition to the function it would have for transporting the pilgrims,” said Eslami.

The minister added that Iranian and Iraqi officials had concluded “initial talks” for building the key road.

A study by the Iranian parliament shows that nearly two million Iraqis visit Iran each year for pilgrimage purposes. The number of Iranians visiting Iraq for a similar reason is around 700,000 although over two million Iranians arrive in Iraq during the Arba’een period, a special religious occasion which takes place in the second month of the Islamic calendar.

Iran and Iraq have massively expanded their trade relations over the past years mainly as a result of deepening political ties between the two neighbors.

Iraq is only second to China in Iran’s list of top export destinations with more than $12 billion worth of goods and services purchased from Iran each year.

Iran has embarked on a series of major transportation projects to facilitate trade with Iraq, including a railway that would connect cities on the southwestern border to the Iraqi port city of Basra.