BISHKEK -- The Chinese ambassador in Bishkek says Kyrgyzstan is a leading partner for China in the Central Asian region, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.
Wang Kaiwen told RFE/RL on July 7 that 2008 was the peak of Kyrgyz-Chinese cooperation, when bilateral trade reached more than $9 billion.
Wang added that thereafter trade turnover gradually declined and only in the first six months of this year did it start to increase again.
He said top-level talks on the construction of a railroad connecting China to Uzbekistan via Kyrgyzstan were ongoing.
Wang said the railroad project would cost around $2 billion and the governments of China, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan were currently discussing which company will build the railroad -- whether it should be a joint company or done by a foreign firm.
He added that the financial contribution of some of the sides in the project could be in the form of natural resources.
Wang said Tajikistan, Iran, Afghanistan, and Turkey had expressed interest in the railroad, which he said would replace the Great Silk Road that crossed the region in ancient times.