Monday, 11 December, 2017

Iran President opens Chabahar port

World       by Sarfraz Ali | Published World by Sarfraz Ali | Published
Howard Terry | 04 December, 2017, 01:06

Transport Minister Abbas Akhoundi said Chabahar on the Gulf of Oman will "soon become an important commercial hub for Iran".

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday inaugurated the first phase of the country's strategic Chahbahar Port, opening up a transit route between Iran, Afghanistan and India that bypasses Pakistan. But New Delhi has proceeded cautiously at a time when the United States administration has taken an aggressive new approach toward Tehran. He also represented India in the second edition of the India-Iran-Afghanistan ministerial-level meeting on Chabahar port development. It is also considered by India as a gateway for trade with the landlocked Central Asian Republics, besides Afghanistan.

"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.

In the president's words, the inauguration of the first phase of Shahid Beheshti Port marks a historic day for Iran, particularly for the people of Chabahar, IRNA reported.

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. 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".

India, Iran and Afghanistan reiterated their commitment to the early operationalisation 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 global markets.

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.

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".

Zarif said the port would reinforce Iran-India mutual and regional cooperation.

The port will increase the capacity of loading and unloading of 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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