Iran’s state TV said the first Chinese commercial train has arrived in Tehran to revive the Silk Road — an ancient network of trade routes running through Asia.
Monday’s report quoted Mohsen Pourseyed Aghaie, Iran’s deputy transport minister, that a 12-container train arrived in Tehran after a 14-day journey from eastern China.
The train left East China’s Yiwu, Zhejiang Province, on Jan. 28, and passed through Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan on its way to Iran, travelling a distance more than 10,000 kilometers (6,200 miles).
Aghaie said the railway saves transit time comparing to the sea route from Shanghai to Iranian ports. He also said Iran plans to extend the route to Europe.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said his country will continue its close ties with the east, despite deals his country has with western nations like France and Italy.
China is Iran’s biggest trade partner and continued purchasing oil from Iran after nuclear-related sanctions were tightened in 2012, despite U.S. pressure.
The Belt and Road initiative, proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013, refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. The link between Yiwu to Tehran on the road is the latest move from the China-backed initiative to revive the ancient Silk Road that flourished a thousand years ago, and was used by traders from both the East and West.
It’s the oldest overland trade route in the world, a network dating back to the Fifth century B.C. Now China’s President Xi Jinping is bringing it into the 21st century under the name: “Belt and Road Initiative”.
Story compiled with reporting by the by the Associated Press and CCTV.