Iraq and Iran launch cross-border rail project

Iraqi prime minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani during an official visit to Iran in December 2022 (Tasnim News Agency/CC BY 4.0)
Iraqi prime minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani and Iran’s first vice-president Mohammad Mokhber officially inaugurated work on a long-planned, 32km railway between the two countries on Saturday (2 September).

The line will run from the southern port city of Basra in Iraq to the Iranian border town of Shalamcheh, AFP reports.

Officials said the line would boost economic growth and make it easier for Muslim pilgrims to visit holy sites in Iraq.

The two countries fought a devastating war from 1980 to 1988, sparked by Iraqi president Saddam Hussein’s invasion after Iran’s Islamic Revolution in 1979.

Relations are now friendly between the two states.

Iran has pledged to clear landmines at the border crossing, a legacy of the war, and to build a bridge over the Shatt al-Arab waterway.

Iraq has budgeted $200m for building the tracks, Middle East Monitor reports.

Officials said the railway would be finished within two years.

Middle East Monitor notes that the two countries have signed memoranda for the line in 2011, 2014, and 2021.

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