The first phase of the strategically located Chabahar port was inaugurated
by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on December 3. India, Iran and Afghanistan
reiterated their commitment to the early operationalization of the port that
will contribute to bilateral and regional trade and economic development, apart
from providing land-locked Afghanistan an alternative access to regional and
Minister of state (shipping) Pon Radhakrishnan represented India at the
inauguration of phase one+ of what is known as the Shahid Beheshti port at
Chabahar. He also represented India in the second edition of the
India-Iran-Afghanistan ministerial-level meeting on Chabahar port development.
The Chabahar project, located on the Gulf of Oman, only 85km from China's
Gwadar port in Pakistan, is important for India as it will allow access to
Afghanistan and Central Asia
The MEA said the three countries agreed to further intensify efforts on
issues concerning regional connectivity and Chabahar port development under the
trilateral transit and trade agreement at the meeting. The agreement is yet to
be ratified by Iran but India expressed "positive appreciation" to
the Iranian side on recent steps taken towards ratification by Iran's Majlis,
The completion of the internal procedures on the ratification process by
Iran is expected to lead to full and early operationalisation of the transit
and trade arrangement between the three countries through the Chabahar port,"
a government statement said.
The three sides also commended the recent joint efforts that led to the
transit of the first tranche of 1,10,000 tonnes of wheat from India to
Afghanistan through Chabahar. In a joint statement, the three countries reiterated
their commitment to organising a connectivity event involving all stakeholders
at Chabahar at the earliest so as to increase awareness about the new
opportunities offered by the port.
The routes of the region should be connected on land, sea and air,"
Rouhani said at the inauguration ceremony, according to his office. The port is
likely to ramp up trade between India, Afghanistan and Iran in the wake of
Pakistan denying New Delhi transit access for trade with the two countries.
India has been working with Afghanistan to create alternative, reliable access
routes, bypassing Pakistan.
The current US administration is not well disposed towards the Iranian
regime over nuclear issues but has permitted India to continue with the port
project as it will open up independent supply lines to Kabul where the US
forces are fighting the Taliban. The presence of Minister of state for shipping
Radhakrishan from the Indian side along with Iranian President Rouhani
indicates that New Delhi wants the inauguration to be a low key affair.