Iran inaugurates first phase of Chabahar port

Dec 04, 2017, 01:06
Iran inaugurates first phase of Chabahar port

Iran officially opened a $1 billion extension of its Chabahar port in the Gulf of Oman on Sunday.

State TV said President Hassan Rohani attended the inauguration on December 3 along with dignitaries from India, Qatar, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and other countries.

"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", he said, according to the Iranian Foreign Ministry. But New Delhi has proceeded cautiously at a time when the U.S. administration has taken an aggressive new approach toward Tehran.

India plans to export 130,000 tons of wheat to Afghanistan.

Chabahar is Iran's only oceanic port town and consists of two separate ports named Shahid Kalantari and Shahid Beheshti.

In October, India sent its first consignment of wheat to Afghanistan through Chabahar, which is about 140km from Pakistan's Gwadar port.

The development of the Shahid Beheshti port, a $340 million project, is being seen as a reinforcement of mutual and regional cooperation between Iran and India, according to the India Times. "We welcome other ports in the region, we welcome Gwadar's development".

Several subcontractors were involved in building this port, including a stated-owned Indian company, which increased the port's capacity from 2.5 million tons of cargo to 8.5 million tons of cargo annually. "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. India has committed $500 million to build the port to bypass Pakistan.

Giving a boost to bilateral ties between India and Iran, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj made an unannounced visit to Tehran, while returning from Sochi in Russian Federation, ahead of the inauguration of the strategically important port.

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".

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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