Iran and Syria will enter talks with Baghdad after signing an agreement to build railroads linking the two countries via Iraq, according to the head of Iran's railroad authority quoted Saturday by the press.
Rahman Dadman, who was meeting in Tehran with his Syrian counterpart Mohammed Ayad Qazal, said railroad lines would extend from Syria to Iraq and then between the southern Iraqi city of Basra and the southwestern Iranian city of Khorramshahr.
"Studies and construction of 150 kilometers (90 miles) of railroad between Syria and Iraq have been entrusted to an Iranian company," Dadman said.
Iran and Syria also agreed to step up the number of passenger trains running between Tehran and Damascus through Turkey.
Iran's 6,000 kilometers (3,600 mile) of railroad date back to World War II and are in need of rapid renovation due to an increase in traffic from former Soviet republics, for whom Iran is the major link to Gulf ports.
President Mohammad Khatami's government has given the go-ahead for the purchase of about 100 diesel-electric locomotives from the French company Alstom.
Iran hopes the purchase will boost its railway capacity by 20 percent - TEHRAN (AFP)
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