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Nicolas Sarkozy visits Morocco for TGV rail-link launch

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29 September 11 05:04 GMT

TGV train in France (file image)By Nora Fakim
BBC News, Morocco

French President Nicholas Sarkozy is due to arrive in Morocco to oversee the start of construction on a new TGV high-speed rail link.

The line will connect Casablanca with Rabat and Tangiers.

The agreement between France and Morocco to build the line was signed during Mr Sarkozy’s first state visit to the country in October 2007.

The project’s budget is estimated to be $4bn (£2.5bn) and the trains are due to start running by 2015.

The Moroccan government says the project will further enhance economic relations between the two countries. Officials also hope the 350km (219-mile) rail link will boost infrastructure.

However, Morocco’s former finance minister Mohamed Berrada says the project is simply a waste of money.

He says the funds should be spent on more important issues such as fighting the high illiteracy rates and poverty in the country.

Morocco had to borrow an estimated $2bn from French banks and Saudi Arabian development funds for the project.

According to Karim Tazi, a sociologist, the rest of the borrowed money will have to be paid for by future generations.

Some analysts question whether or not it is really worth Morocco going into further debt in order to reduce the train time between Tangiers to Casablanca from five hours, to two hours and 10 minutes.

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