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Israel, Jordan to establish rail links

JERUSALEM, May 26 (JTA) — First you could drive, then you could fly. Now it won’t be long before you can train it from Israel to Jordan. Ariel Sharon, Israel’s national infrastructure minister, said this week that the rail links would be built in the Dead Sea area, and between the Red Sea cities of Aqaba and Eilat. International firms interested in building the rail lines are participating in the negotiations. News of the future rail connection came as Israel approved a plan to divert about 1.7 million cubic feet of water to Jordan each year. The water will be provided through a desalination project that is expected to take three years to build. The plan was agreed upon in principle at a meeting earlier this month between Jordan’s King Hussein and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. They met in Aqaba to resolve a mini-crisis over interpretation of an agreement on water-sharing that is part of the 1994 peace treaty between the two countries. Until the desalination plant is built, Israel will provide Jordan with 875 million cubic feet of drinking water. The transfer began this week. The water is in addition to some 1 billion cubic feet of water Israel already supplies to Jordan annually under the first phase of their water agreement.

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