Russia may be Europe-Asia transport link - minister

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VLADIVOSTOK, September 19 (RIA Novosti, Anatoly Ilyukhov) - Modern transport infrastructure in the east of Russia would make the region a reliable and profitable link between Europe and Asia, the Russian transportation minister said Monday.

Igor Levitin told a forum of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) countries that the Trans-Siberian Railroad, the world's biggest mainline, was already such a link, with containers traveling from Asia to Europe at least two times faster than via the Suez Canal.

In 2004, the volume of international container transit on the Trans-Siberian exceeded the record-high 1983 level. A total of 155,400 twenty-foot containers were delivered along the Asia-Europe-Asia route in 2004, which was ten times as many as in 1999.

Levitin said a federal program on modernizing the transport system targeted the Far East's transportation infrastructure, including through the construction and reconstruction of facilities in seaports, and road building.

The minister added the regional infrastructure should be integrated into the APEC economic system.

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