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IRKUTSK, July 6. /TASS/. China could become the chief user of the Northern Sea Route, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin told TASS on Monday.
"For China, which promotes the idea of a New Silk Road, Russia’s Northern Sea Route is the fastest and safest way to deliver goods to Europe," Rogozin noted. He said that it is important to make use of Russia’s current transit advantages.
"If we restore our icebreaker fleet and make the necessary safe ice channeling, China will consider the Northern Sea Route. And if it meets their expectations, we will acquire a hugely important user of Russia’s transit capabilities," the official said.
Rogozin added that both Russian and Chinese officials have been told to study the situation on site. "The first convoy has already passed, they had a chance to take a look at how it works. Now they are readying a second convoy," he said.
The Ministry of Transport and the administration of the Northern Sea Route are currently working to determine "the economic capabilities of the Route and weather conditions there given the existence of an icebreaker fleet". If we prove it to ourselves, to China, to other potential partners, we can keep the Northern Sea Route busy. And that means money," the Russian Deputy Prime Minister concluded.
China is prepared to invest in the railway infrastructure of the Northern Sea Route and the railway line Solikamsk-Arkhangelsk, Dmitry Rogozin said.
"One of the issues on the agenda was encouraging investment in a very interesting project of a transport route from Solikamsk to Arkhangelsk, that is investment in the development of railway infrastructure supporting the Northern Sea Route," Rogozin said after a meeting of a Russia-China commission.
He added that China is also interested in reconstructing airports, including ‘open sky’ airports, such as in Sochi and Vladivostok, and modernizing deep-water ports along the Northern Sea Route.
Besides, issues of cross-border cooperation were discussed during a meeting with China’s Vice Premier Wang Yang. "In the near future, we will be ready to sign documents concerning border crossing points equipped to provide for the development of regions close to the border where there is cooperation, but no direct transport link," Rogozin said.