China speeds up rail talks

China speeds up rail talks :Thai and Chinese officials have agreed to speed up work to overcome obstacles stalling negotiations on the dual-track Nong Khai to Rayong railway and get the first sleepers laid by the end of the year.

On his first visit to China, Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai raised the issue with his counterpart, Wang Yi, and they agreed officials would conclude negotiations on financing after Beijing’s quote for two parts of the project was 30% higher than estimated.

Earlier, Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith had revealed the financial difficulties plaguing the project after reports said the two countries had failed to strike a compromise.

The major difficulties involve an investment plan agreeable to both sides and financial issues for two of the four sectors.

The ministers also agreed on guidelines for the development of the Mekong basin, Mr Don said.
He also sought help from China in fighting to the drought problem which is intensifying.
Mr Don said that during his meeting with Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang, the two expressed appreciation for the two country’s long and solid relationship.

Thailand and China established diplomatic relations in 1976 and they continue to develop, Mr Don said.
He said economic collaboration continued to evolve, with trade last year valued at more than US$63 billion (2.23 trillion baht).

Investment in tourism development had paid off, he said, with more than 4.8 million Chinese tourists visiting Thailand in the first seven months of this year.

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