An Iranian state-run company and China have signed a contract of around $13 billion to build a railway network in the Islamic republic, the firmâ€™s website said in a statement. The contract to build a railway network extending 5,300 kilometres (3,293 miles) was signed when a Chinese delegation visited Tehran, the Construction and Development of Transportation Infrastructure Company statement said. It did not say when Beijingâ€™s team was in the Iranian capital. The agreement comes at a time when world powers, including China, have imposed sanctions on Iran over its controversial nuclear programme. â€śWe signed a 130,000 billion rials (around $13 billion) contract to build more than 5,300 kilometres of railway network,â€ť the statement said, quoting the firmâ€™s managing director Masoud Rahnama, who did not elaborate on the deal. China, which has maintained that Iranâ€™s nuclear controversy be solved by dialogue, has emerged as the largest trading partner of the Islamic republic.
Direct bilateral trade currently stands at $30 billion, state television quoted Assadollah Asgaroladi, the head of Sino-Iranian Chamber of Commerce, as saying. In 2009, bilateral trade stood at $21.2 billion, according to official estimates, a jump from a mere $400 million around 15 years ago. afp – Daily Times