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A UN body today proposed extension of the Istanbul-Teheran-Islamabad (ITI) train corridor to Delhi-Kolkata-Dhaka (DKD) to promote regional cooperation. It maintained that the train corridor has the potential to become an important transport artery for intra-regional trade and an important conduit of Asia's connectivity with Europe. "The operationalisation of a cohesive international transport network faces gaps and challenges in South and South-West Asia, compared to other subregions of Asia and the Pacific," Matthew Hammill, officer-in-charge of United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, said here. ESCAP, as the regional development arm of the United Nations for the Asia-Pacific region, is mandated with the promotion of regional cooperation for sustainable development. Transport connectivity is a cornerstone of regional cooperation, shaping regional production networks and trade patterns through its impact on competitiveness. "For rail, this includes a proposal to extend the Istanbul-Tehran-Islamabad (ITI) Container Train Corridor to Delhi-Kolkata-Dhaka (DKD).
This ITI-DKD corridor can also be extended further to Yangon to become the ITI-DKD-Y Container Rail Corridor," Hammill said. ESCAP in coordination with Indian Railways organised a two-day conference here to explore cross-border rail connectivity in South and South West Asia. Advocating Dhaka-Istanbul rail connectivity, Hammill said, "A key advantage of the ITI-DKD-Y corridor is that, as a trunk rail route traversing the breadth of Southern Asia, it can be linked with other corridors longitudinally." The international meet was attended by representatives from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Russian Federation among others. Hammill said, "It can also provide multi-modal linkages to connect with landlocked developing countries such as Afghanistan, Bhutan and Nepal and as well as various Central Asian countries. The corridor has the potential to become an important transport artery for intra-regional trade and an important conduit of Asia's connectivity with Europe." The meeting was part of ESCAP's continued advocacy towards operationalising this international rail corridor. ESCAP's efforts are focused on making such policy tools and guidelines available for the benefit of participating countries. Its Regional Cooperation Framework for Facilitation of International Railway Transport is an important guiding document in this respect, which can help to address various operational challenges and non-physical barriers. Hammil said the meeting aims to share information and details about the extent of proposed measures for the development of cross-border railway transport among South and South-West Asian countries. It also aims to discuss further steps for strengthening international railway transport in the subregion.