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Iran, China seal New Silk Road deal

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 China have finalized an agreement which allows Chinese traders to use the Iranian territory for exports to Europe as envisaged in an ambitious plan by Beijing named the New Silk Road initiative.

Iran says it has finalized a cooperation agreement with China that would allow Chinese traders to use the Iranian territory for exports to Europe. 

The agreement was signed between customs officials of Iran and China. It is expected to take an ambitious plan by China to revive the ancient Silk Road one step closer to reality, Iran’s IRNA news agency reported.

Preparations are currently being made to implement the agreement in the near future, the news agency added.  Accordingly, Chinese goods will be shipped to Iran’s southern ports and will be thereon transited to Europe by land.  The route that has been envisaged for the scheme will be much shorter that the ancient Silk Road, IRNA added.

The preliminaries for the project were agreed on during a state visit to Tehran by China’s President Xi Jinping in January. 

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 has already made it clear that it sees Iran as a country that can play a crucial role in its New Silk Road initiative given its access to extensive delivery routes connecting to the Middle East and Eurasia.

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