Iran Inaugurates New Extension to its Main Port of Strategic Importance

Iran Inaugurates New Extension to its Main Port of Strategic Importance

While India made a deal worth over Rs 50,000 crore past year to develop Chabahar special economic zone, it had already taken several other measures to increase cooperation with Afghanistan and Iran.

Ahead of the inauguration of the port, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj yesterday met her Iranian counterpart Javed Zarif in Tehran during which implementation of the Chabahar port project was discussed among other issues. As per the reports, Iranian president Hassan extended $1 for the inauguration of Chabahar port in Tehran which will help the country become key transit route between Afghanistan and Central Asia.

India is partnering with Iran in the port development project to use the route to bypass Pakistan and reach Afghanistan and Central Asia. But, given the fact that the USA is now India's close ally and Russian Federation too stands to gain from the trade routes, it is fair to assume that both Pakistan and China won't indulge in disruptive activities. Consisting of two separate ports named Shahid Kalantari and Shahid Beheshti, it was in the days of the last Shah of Iran that a proposal to develop the port was first floated.

■ The Chabahar port will be beneficial to India in countering Chinese presence in the Arabian Sea.

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Located in Iran's Sistan and Baluchistan province on the Gulf of Oman region, Chabahar is the only oceanic port of the country. India had already tested the waters over a month ago when it sent a consignment of wheat to Afghanistan by sea through the Chabahar port, marking the opening of the new strategic transit route. Akbar was speaking at the 7th Meeting of Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan (RECCA), which was formed to promote peace in Afghanistan.

In the first phase of the port of Shahid Beheshti, 15 million cubic meters of dredging, 203 hectares of new land, and 1,650 breakwaters have been constructed, and its basin depth is 16.5 square meters. But those hopes were belied when Pakistan refused to allow Afghan trucks to come up to the Indian border at Attari, Punjab, or take back Indian goods. Iran was represented by its Transport Minister Abbas Akhoundi and Afghanistan by its Trade and Commerce Minister Humayoon Rasaw. Chabahar also has an global airport and Iran's Navy and Air Force have bases in the city, adding to the ports value.

Reiterating the importance of Chabahar as a hub for regional economic connectivity and their commitment to work towards this objective, the ministers also commended the joint efforts of the three countries in the recent successful transit of wheat from India to Afghanistan through Chabahar.

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