Work starts on Hungary-Serbia rail line financed by China

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BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Officials have inaugurated the reconstruction of the railway line between Serbia and Hungary, a project financed mostly by China and its "new Silk Road" initiative to expand commercial ties with Europe, Asia and Africa.

The symbolic launch of the project on Tuesday on the outskirts of the Serbian capital of Belgrade took place on the same day Chinese Premier Li Keqiang was meeting Budapest with the prime ministers of both countries, Serbia's Ana Brnabic and Hungary's Viktor Orban.

Orban has called the upgraded railway, which has been criticized by Hungarian opposition parties as too expensive and more important for China than Hungary, the "flagship project" of China's efforts to increase its presence in the region.

On Monday, Hungary hosted the "16+1" summit between China and 16 countries from Eastern Europe.