Nawaz Sharif visits Iran amid tensions

Updated 20 May 2014
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Nawaz Sharif visits Iran amid tensions

TEHRAN: Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif met Sunday with the Iranian president at the start of visit during which talks are likely to include border security and a stalled gas pipeline deal.
Sharif and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani met briefly for lunch, and are to hold more in depth talks on “bilateral issues and the expansion of economic cooperation,” the official IRNA news agency reported. During his two-day visit Sharif, who is accompanied by senior advisors, is also expected to meet supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s ultimate authority, media reported.
The visit comes amid tensions between the two neighbors following the kidnapping in February of five Iranian soldiers by extremists who took them across the border into Pakistan.
Tehran says the soldiers, four of whom returned home after being held for two months, were taken across the border into Pakistan, a claim Islamabad denies.
The fate of the fifth soldier is unknown. His abductors claim to have killed him but it is yet to be officially confirmed.
Ties between Islamabad and Tehran have also been strained following the announcement in February by the Sharif government that Pakistan was suspending work on a $7.5-billion pipeline for Iranian gas exports. The work on the Iranian side is almost complete and Tehran expects Pakistan to finish the project on its side.


Japan firms fined $3.4 million over maglev bid-rigging

Updated 7 min 54 sec ago
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Japan firms fined $3.4 million over maglev bid-rigging

  • The maglev trains are scheduled to begin commercial service between Tokyo and Nagoya in 2027
  • Maglev trains will run at 500 kilometers per hour, roughly twice as fast as the current bullet trains in Japan

TOKYO: Two major construction companies were Monday ordered to pay fines totaling more than $3 million for colluding to win contracts on Japan’s multi-billion-dollar maglev project.
The state-of-the-art maglev — magnetic levitation — trains are scheduled to begin commercial service between Tokyo and Nagoya in central Japan in 2027, later extending to the western hub of Osaka.
The giant project, estimated to cost nine trillion yen ($86 billion) in total, has seen a host of firms compete for contracts ranging from tunneling work to building stations.
The Japan Fair Trade Commission brought charges against four companies in March for suspected anti-trust violations, accusing them of sharing estimated costs for construction work.
On Monday, the Tokyo district court ordered one of those companies, Obayashi, to pay ¥200 million and a second, Shimizu, to pay ¥180 million.
The case against the two other companies is still ongoing.
Presiding judge Takumi Suzuki said the collusion had “prevented fair and free competition,” local media reported.
“We accept the ruling and we will do our best to take preventive measures and other additional steps to regain trust promptly,” Obayashi said in a statement.
Shimizu described the collusion as “regrettable.”
Maglev trains will run at 500 kilometers per hour, roughly twice as fast as the current bullet trains in Japan.
A maglev train clocked a new world speed record in a 2015 test run near Mount Fuji, smashing through the 600 kilometers per hour mark.