Chinese express interest in building Messina bridge

Move could give boost to long-delayed project's fortunes

Chinese express interest in building Messina bridge

Rome, November 7 - A Chinese company has expressed interest in the project to build a bridge over the Strait of Messina, according to Pietro Ciucci, the chief executive of the company charged with studying the feasibility of the project. On Friday, the government announced that it would not cancel the long-awaited and controversial bridge project, which aims to connect mainland Italy with Sicily, but that it would extend feasibility studies for another two years. Previously, the government had said it would shelve the much-debated project, the brainchild of former Premier Silvio Berlusconi. During a hearing Tuesday in Italy's Senate, Ciucci said there is a 'memorandum of understanding' with the China Communication Construction Company regarding the building of the bridge. Ciucci did not elaborate except to say that the memorandum "is not a contract or commitment, but it shows there is interest in part of the market" for the bridge's realization. "There is a communique' drafted after a meeting in Istanbul in which the interest in building the bridge is affirmed," Ciucci added. The 8.5-billion-euro project will not be getting off the drawing board any time soon, however. On Monday Italian Industry Minister Corrado Passera said that 'the project is not yet sustainable, neither technically not financially'. Passera also said that he had not met with private Chinese investors regarding the possibility of funding the stalled project. 'We have to give ourselves another two years to evaluate if there are private investors interested,' Passera said Monday.

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