India keen to participate in Israel's Red-Med project: Nath

India is keen to participate in the construction of the first-ever rail link between the Mediterranean and Red Sea coasts which offers a new Asia-Europe trade route that will compete with the key Suez Canal freight route.

Dismissing claims that India has lost yet another infrastructure project of interest to China, Minister for Urban Development Kamal Nath said that he has expressed India's interest in participating in the project as part of New Delhi's efforts to enhance engagement with Israel.

"Once this project is formed and the road map is clear, Indian companies will evaluate their participation, but I do see good Indian interest in this," visiting Urban Development Minister Kamal Nath told PTI here.

He made the comment after meeting Israeli Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz and Minister for Trade, Industry and Labour Hsalom Simhon.

The proposed rail link was unanimously approved by the Israeli cabinet last week.

The Indian minister brought up the issue of Indian companies' participation in the ambitious project during his discussions with Israeli ministers, who are said to have promptly welcomed India's involvement.

"That's not correct because I have discussed this with the Minister of Transport this morning and it's in a formative stage," Nath said, reacting to some media reports.

"They are in fact welcoming India's participation in this and no country has taken over anything. This will be pursued by the Indian companies. I think this is an area of potential for enhancing our engagement," the minister further said.

The media reports had claimed that the state-owned infrastructure companies could have been benefited from the opportunities in the project, but Indian government's lethargy and inertia in decision making led China walk away with the bid.

The 350-km-long Red-Med railway will run from Eilat, on the Red Sea, to Ashdod, on the Mediterranean some 30 km south of Tel Aviv.

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