Thursday, 14 December, 2017

Chabahar phase one launched; India, Afghanistan can now skip Pakistan

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj
Erik Tate | 04 December, 2017, 01:07

Iran has officially opened an extension of its southeastern port of Chabahar, which Tehran hopes will become a key transit hub for land-locked Afghanistan and Central Asia.

The port is the only oceanic port of Iran which will link Sistan and Balouchestan province to Central Asia and Afghanistan, Rouhani said.

During his two day visit on December 2-3, Radhakrishnan represented India in the second India-Iran-Afghanistan ministerial-level trilateral meeting on the Chabahar Port development.

Adding more values to the port, the Chabahar port - which is located in Iran's southeastern Sistan-Baluchestan province - has two docks, an global airport, and Iran's Navy and Air Force bases.

Over a month ago, India had sent its first consignment of wheat to Afghanistan by sea through the Chabahar port in Iran. India has committed $500 million to build the port to bypass Pakistan.

Rouhani inaugurated the expansion, carried out with an investment of $1bn including $235mn from India, which has more than tripled the port's capacity to 8.5 million tonnes a year, state television reported.

Iran also plans to link the port to the country's railroad network to facilitate transit of goods to neighbouring landlocked Central Asian countries, as well as open a route to eastern and northern Europe through Russian Federation, he said.

Economy rebounds: GDP growth rate rises to 6.3% in September quarter
His comments come ahead of the second quarter GDP data that will be released by the Central Statistics Economy later this evening. In July-September, auto sales, manufacturing , electricity generation grew more quickly than in the previous quarter.

Chabahar provides India with an easy land-sea linkup with Afghanistan. "We should go after positive competition, we welcome other ports in the region, we welcome Gwadar's development", he added.

According to the Indian statement, at the trilateral meeting, the Indian, Iranian and Afghan Ministers "agreed to further intensify efforts on issues concerning regional connectivity and focusing on Chabahar port development under the Trilateral Transit and Trade Agreement".

The statement said, "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 though the Chabahar port..."

Further boosting up the bilateral ties between India and Iran, Swaraj, on her way back from Sochi in Russian Federation, made an unannounced visit to Tehran, ahead of the inauguration of the first phase of the key port - in which the Iranian government has invested about one billion dollar.

Shahid Beheshti Port will be regarded as a new development stage for the province, the President 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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