Jan 12, 2018, 12:21 PM
News Code: 82793239
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Tehran, Delhi firm on boosting Chabahar transit project: Indian expert

New Delhi, Jan 12, IRNA- A senior Indian analyst said the visit of the Iranian minister of Roads and Urban Development Abbas Akhundi will push ahead cooperation between Iran and India in developing the strategically important port of Chabahar in southeast of Iran.

In an exclusive interview with IRNA on Friday, Aditi Bhaduri said that India has committed $500 million to develop the Chabahar Port and a free trade zone around it.

She said the project was also discussed during the meeting of the Iranian Minister of Road and Urban Development Abbas Akhundi and his Indian counterpart Nitin Gadkary in New Delhi on Wednesday.

Akhundi arrived in the Indian capital on Wednesday to promote transportation cooperation between the two countries. He is accompanied by a delegation comprising officials from both government and private sector companies.

“India’s primary interest is to develop trade with Afghanistan through the port, which will allow both countries to engage in trade without needing to pass through a third country. The port will enhance trade in the region, with a final aim to connect India not just to Afghanistan via railway, but also to the 7,200 km International North-South Transport Corridor to Russia,” she added.

She said the inauguration of the first phase of the Chabahar Port by the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani along with the senior officials of Afghanistan and India including the Indian Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj on December 03, 2017 was a 'historical development'.

The expert who has a good name with the Indian media also said, “the inauguration of Chabahar Port in southern Iran will enhance the role played by both Iran and India in the region. Indeed, on 30th October a shipment of wheat from India to Afghanistan was flagged off by the foreign ministers of India, Iran, and Afghanistan through video-conferencing and this has been termed as a 'game changer' by officials in all three countries.”

“Chabahar port offers Afghanistan an easy access to the open sea, without having to do transiting via a third country, and thereby an access to the huge markets of the Indian sub-continent, Southeast Asia and beyond, as well as to Central Asia, and the Middle East,” she added.

Elaborating on the importance of the Chabahar Port for the regional stability, Bhaduri stressed that “opening up of the Afghan economy and integrating it into the regional and global economy is a prime imperative for stabilizing the country, which still has largely a war economy.'

'The project will also enhance the peace and stability in the region. In New Delhi last year, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said that Chabahar port would allow Afghanistan access to a global market, and help create a formal economy in the country.'

“To that end, India had constructed the Zaranj-Delaram highway connecting Afghanistan to Iran, through which the first shipment via Chabahar reached Afghanistan,” she said.

Terming the Chabahar Port as a very important point for India to enhance its trade ties with not only Afghanistan but also the Central Asia and beyond to Russia, the senior journalist said, “In May 2016, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Iranian President Rouhani and his Afghan counterpart Ashraf Ghani signed the tripartite Chabahar agreement for establishment of International Transport and Transit Corridor, which Modi termed it as 'history being created.'

To a query by IRNA on the possible adverse impact of Afghanistan’s joining the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), she said, “The Chabahar Port has its own merits and advantages so the port will continue to play a significant role in India's trade with Afghanistan and vice versa.'

'As for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), we actually have to wait and see its realizations. There are still many challenges there, so it's too early to speculate on that,” Bhaduri said.


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