India, Iran, Afghanistan discuss Chabahar Port Development

Violet Powell
December 4, 2017

"Today, five wharfs have been inaugurated in the first phase and building this Port will create many jobs for the people of Iran and the province of Sistan and Baluchestan".

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday presided over the opening of a $1bn extension to Iran's southeastern Chabahar port, which Tehran hopes will become a key transit route to land-locked Afghanistan and Central Asia.

Minister of State (Shipping) Pon Radhakrishnan, who represented India at the inauguration of the first phase of the Chabahar port on Sunday, also took part in a trilateral meeting on the Chabahar Port development.

Iran is believed to have asked the Indian government to "manage" or operate the first phase of the port until work for the second phase is finalized.

It said that the first phase of the Chabahar port project is known as the Shahid Beheshti port.

The extension required an investment of $1 billion, including $235 million from India.

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He further pointed to the opening of Shahid Beheshti Port of Chabahar in southeastern Iran, and said it reinforces Iran-India mutual and regional cooperation.

From 2.5 million tonnes, the annual cargo tonnage of Shahid Beheshti Port, Iran's only oceanic port, is now expected to nearly triple and reach 8.5 million tonnes. Terming the consignment as a gift to the Afghans, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj then said that the country is committed to work closely with its worldwide and regional partners "to bring peace, security, stability and prosperity in Afghanistan".

It was inaugurated in the presence of dignitaries from India, Afghanistan, Qatar and Pakistan.

Addressing the ceremony, Iranian Transport and Urban Development Minister Abbas Akhoundi said that once transportation infrastructures are complete in Chabahar, it will serve as the gateway to regional economies, IRNA reported. "It was also made a decision to convene an expert level meeting of senior officials of the three countries at the earliest", the statement said.

The US, however, has held off criticism of India's involvement in developing Chabahar, hoping greater Indian investment in Afghanistan will help to stabilise the country. "It also shows the importance of the port in the development of the region and the routes that connect Central Asian states to other countries in the world through the Sea of Oman and the Indian Ocean", he said.

A railway route is also under construction from Chabahar to Zahedan (centre city of Sistan-Baluchestan Province) to boost the capacity of the new strategic transit route.

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