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Biden, Modi and EU to announce rail and shipping project linking India to Middle East and Europe

NEW DELHI (AP) – United States (US) President Joe Biden and his allies on Saturday were to outline plans for a rail and shipping corridor that would connect India with the Middle East and ultimately Europe – a possible game changer for global trade to be announced at the Group of 20 summit (G20).

The project would include the US, India, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the European Union (EU) and other countries in the G20, said Biden’s principal deputy national security adviser Jon Finer.

Biden, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen plan to announce the project as part of the Partnership for Global Infrastructure Investment.

The rail and shipping corridor would enable greater trade among the countries, including energy products. Finer laid out three big rationales for the project. He said first that the corridor would increase prosperity among the countries involved by increasing the flow of energy and digital communications. Second, the project would help address the lack of infrastructure needed for growth in lower and middle-income nations. And third, Finer said it could help “turn the temperature down” on “turbulence and insecurity” coming out of the Middle East.

“We see this as having a high appeal to the countries involved, and also globally, because it is transparent, because it is a high standard, because it is not coercive,” Finer said.

Von der Leyen was expected to describe the project as “nothing less than historic” and as an “India – Middle East – Europe economic corridor” that will make trade between India and Europe 40 per cent faster, according to a draft of her prepared remarks.

The project will include a rail link as well as an electricity cable, a hydrogen pipeline and a high-speed data cable, according von der Leyen’s prepared text, which also describes the project as “a green and digital bridge across continents and civilisations”.

She is also expected to announce a ‘Trans-African Corridor’ that will connect the Angolan port of Lobito with Kananga province in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the copper-mining regions of Zambia.

Biden participated in the summit’s first session, which focused on the theme of ‘One Earth’. The US president plans to draw on the theme to push for more investments to address climate change, such as his own domestic incentives to encourage the use of renewable energy, Finer said.

The summit’s second session is about ‘One Family’. Biden plans to use this portion to discuss his request to Congress for additional funding for the World Bank that could generate more than USD25 billion in new lending for economic development, Finer said.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi welcomes United States President Joe Biden upon his arrival at Bharat Mandapam convention centre for the G20 Summit, in New Delhi, India. PHOTO: AP