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Friday, October 16, 1998 Published at 08:58 GMT 09:58 UK


Silk Road telecom link opens

A telecommunications corridor has opened along the Silk Road - the ancient trading link between Asia and Europe.

The 27,000 kilometre cable, linking 20 countries, is the longest overland fibre-optic system in the world.

It provides digital circuits for transmitting voice, data, fax and video information.

[ image: Fibre optic cables - a new link along an ancient route]
Fibre optic cables - a new link along an ancient route
The cable, which approximately follows the old Silk Road trade route, connects the Chinese city of Shanghai to Frankfurt in Germany via the Central Asian states.

It was officially opened in Shanghai on Wednesday, according to the China Daily.

The project was agreed in April 1993 with signatory countries responsible for construction of the line within their borders, the newspaper said.

Last month representatives from more than 30 countries met in Azerbaijan to discuss a plan to develop a modern road, rail and air transport network along the Silk Road.

The scheme seeks to boost transport volume through the corridor to 34 million tonnes by 2010 from 1.9 million in 1997.

Participating countries also want to unlock the vast oil and gas reserves of the Caspian Sea.

The route linking Asia and Europe existed for centuries before the Russians conquered Central Asia and turned it into the southern flank of the Soviet Union.

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