Turkey hopes railway will boost trade with Iraq
The resumption of passenger train services between Turkey and Iraq after a 20-year break will help revitalize trade between the two neighbors, a Turkish official said Saturday, July 21. The first passenger train from Baghdad in two decades arrived Saturday in the southeastern Turkish city of Gaziantep.
"The train service will contribute to reviving bilateral trade and improving relations between Turkey and Iraq," Gaziantep deputy governor Ali Kucukaydin said at a welcoming ceremony at the city station, Anatolia news agency reported.
An official Iraqi delegation of 23 people, including Iraqi railways deputy head Falah Hassan, and 14 other passengers were aboard the train, the agency said. The train left Baghdad on Friday and passed through northeast Syria in the absence of a direct line through the mountainous border region.
The reopening of the line, dating back to the Ottoman Empire but suspended since 1981, was agreed at a meeting in Ankara last January.
Turkey, a NATO ally that hosts US and British jets patrolling Iraq's northern no-fly zone, has recently spoken in favor of easing the 11-year-long UN embargo on Iraq. In the past several months, Turkish officials have held a series of talks with their Iraqi counterparts to revitalize trade.
A Turkish freight train arrived in Iraq on July 13 carrying 450 tons of goods ordered under the UN oil-for-food program. Earlier, Turkey has also sent several planes to Baghdad, carrying humanitarian supplies. Turkey puts its losses due to the embargo at about 35 billion dollars. ― (AFP, Ankara)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)