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"Iron Silk Road" across Asia set to receive green light

"Iron Silk Road" across Asia set to receive green light

Busan: Asian nations will today sign an intergovernmental agreement paving the way for a new Trans-Asian Railway (TAR) stretching across the continent, according to officials of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) attending a ministerial transport conference in Busan.
 
Of the 28 countries involved in the project, dubbed the "Iron Silk Road", 21 are expected to sign the agreement today, according to UNESCAP chief Kim Hak-su. The remainder will have two years to follow suit, but are all believed willing to take part. Once ratified by a minimum eight counties - which Hak-su said is expected by around mid-2007, the accord will come into legal force - allowing work to begin on securing project financing.  
 
First mooted back in 1960, the 81,000km TAR network would link ports, industrial hubs and capitals across Asia, from Russia in the north, South Korea in the east, Malaysia in the south and Turkey in the west.
 
TAR is seen by Bangkok-based UNESCAP as a way of promoting trade and employment across Asia, particularly in inland areas, and of reducing congestion at seaports. Plan is to create along the network a number of inland container depots or "dry ports" of international significance, of which there are only about 100 in the whole of Asia at present, which contrasts sharply with the continent's increasingly dominant position in world seaports.  [10/11/06]
 

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