The first phase of Chabahar port was inaugurated on Sunday afternoon by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. The strategically located port will open up a new transit route between India, Iran and Afghanistan, bypassing Pakistan. The new route is set to boost India’s trade ties with Iran.
The port, located in Iran’s southeastern Sistan- Baluchestan Province, was be inaugurated by Iranian President in presence of India’s Minister of State for Shipping Pon Radhakrishnan and representatives from several other countries of the region.
The port lies outside the Persian Gulf and is easily accessed from India’s western coast and is considered as a “gateway to golden opportunities” for trade with central Asian countries.
“The routes of the region should be connected on land, sea and air,” Rouhani said at the inauguration ceremony.
The port is likely to ramp up trade between India, Afghanistan and Iran in the wake of Pakistan denying transit access to New Delhi for trade with the two countries. Last month, India had sent its first consignment of wheat to Afghanistan by sea through the Chabahar port, marking the opening of the new strategic transit route.
India has been closely working with Afghanistan to create alternative, reliable access routes, bypassing Pakistan.
Under the agreement signed between India and Iran in May last year, India is to equip and operate two berths in the Chabahar Port Phase-I with capital investment of USD 85.21 million and annual revenue expenditure of USD 22.95 million on a 10-year lease.
Ahead of the inauguration, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and her Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif met in Tehran on Saturday evening to discuss the project.
Iranian Foreign Ministry said Zarif referred to the Shahid Beheshti Port and said it reinforces Iran-India mutual and regional cooperation.
“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,” said Iranian minister Javed Zarif.
Swaraj made a stopover at Tehran on her return from the Russian city of Sochi where she attended the annual summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).
(With inputs from agencies)