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The Indian Government is to sign the agreement on the Trans-Asian Railway connecting vast parts of Europe and Asia.

Indian Information and Broadcasting Minister PR Dasmunsi told Xinhua Friday that the government has approved the signing and the inter-governmental agreement will formalize the coordinated development of the Trans-Asian Railway, which will facilitate the rail traffic and improve trade and tourism among Asian countries.

“The contracting parties will develop the railway tracks of international importance. A working group will be established to consider the implementation of the agreement,” said the minister.

The Trans-Asian agreement reached at the 62nd session of the United Nations in April last year, is open for signing till December 2008. Some 18 countries, including Russia, China, Iran, Turkey, Vietnam, Mongolia, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Laos, have signed the agreement.

The rail link will enter India at Tamu bordering Myanmar, pass through Bangladesh at Mahisasan and again enter India at Gede. It will exit India through Attari.

The agreement was adopted at the 62nd session of United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) in 2006. India, Pakistan and Bangladesh were among the 10 countries which watched 18 others sign the agreement. The agreement has to be signed before next year.

The Trans Asian Railway was conceived in the 1960s to provide a continuous 14,000-km rail link between Singapore and Istanbul, with possible onward connections to Europe and Africa. But the idea never went beyond the drawing board. The concept was revived and expanded to over 80,000 km in the early 1990s with the UNESCAP playing the key role.

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