Iran Opens Extension Of Key Port

Iran Opens Extension Of Key Port

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.

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.

Besides the bilateral pact to develop the Chabahar port, for which India will invest $500 million, a trilateral Agreement on Transport and Transit Corridor has also been signed by India, Afghanistan and Iran.

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.

The port in the Sistan-Balochistan province on the energy-rich nation's southern coast lies outside the Persian Gulf and is easily accessed from India's western coast.

In October, India sent its first consignment of wheat to Afghanistan through Chabahar, which is about 140km from Pakistan's Gwadar port. The Indian government has committed United States dollars 500 million to Chabahar, with an aim to join an increasingly important transport corridor to resource-rich regional countries.

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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.

The first-phase of the Chabahar port project is known as the Shahid Beheshti port.

Chabahar provides India with an easy land-sea linkup with Afghanistan. "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.

Ahead of the inauguration, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and her Iranian counterpart Javed Zarif held a meeting on Saturday in Tehran and discussed about the Chabahar port project among other issues.

Rouhani added that the port is also politically important "because it will connect us to the eastern and northern countries, and even to European countries in the future, and this is politically important to us".

The port will increase the capacity of loading and unloading of the ships as well as the employment rate in the province, according to an official with the Sistan and Baluchestan Ports and Maritime Organisation.

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