Chabahar will open door to more transit from Indian ports: Envoy

IRNA – Iran’s Ambassador to India Gholamreza Ansari said Iran’s Chabahar port has positively affected transportation activities between the two countries and is expected to even open door to transit cooperation with a number of Indian ports.

He made the remarks while talking to IRNA in an exclusive interview on the sidelines of a meeting between the visiting Iranian Minister of Road and Urban Development Abbas Akhundi and India’s Minister of Railways Suresh Prabhu here on Friday.

Akhundia was here to attend a marketing event for the Iranian port of Chabahar part of whose development plan is done in partnership with India.

He met and discussed purchase of 200 locomotives and freight wagon with Prabhu and then signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Indian state-owned body worth $6 billion to the effect.

Commenting on the meetings and the agreement, Ansari said he was positive on the outcome of future collaboration between the two countries in transportation areas.

He said the successful development of the Chabahar port will lead to the establishment of links with other Indian ports.

As for the content and outcomes of talks between Indian and Iranian officials during the three-day visit of the Iranian minister to New Delhi, he noted that generally speaking, very constructive negotiations were conducted between the two countries.

He voiced his hope that the MoU signed on Friday will be finalized soon and become operational during the coming high level meetings between the two countries.

Asked to comment on any possible hindrance on implementation of the agreement, he said the biggest obstacle on the implementation of agreements of this scale would normally be the financial support that must be given to them.

‘Fortunately,’ the Ambassador said, “the Indian government has announced that it will provide the necessary funding for joint projects between India and Iran so there is no challenge in the bilateral.”

According to IRNA, the first phase of Chabahar port development project is of prime importance for both Iran and India.

India sees Iran’s Chabahar Port project as a golden opportunity for New Delhi to enhance its regional role and cooperation.

India has reiterated its commitment to complete and operationalise the port at the earliest that would contribute to bilateral and regional trade and economic development and also provide alternate access to landlocked Afghanistan to regional and global markets.

India managed to transit its first tranche of 110,000 tonnes of wheat from India to Afghanistan through the Chabahar Port based on a Trilateral Transit and Trade Agreement signed in May 2016 between India, Iran and Afghanistan.

President Hassan Rouhani opened the first phase of Shahid Beheshti Port in the south eastern city of Chabahar on Dec. 3, 2017 during a ceremony attended by 60 foreign guests from 17 countries.

As Iran’s only oceanic port and thanks to its very sensitive geopolitical position, Chabahar plays a vital role in connecting India to Afghanistan, Central Asia and Europe.

India has committed $500 million to building two berths at Chabahar to process trade and develop an economic zone around them, as well as $1.6 billion for a 650-km rail link from Chabahar to Zahedan and into Afghanistan. Iran is completing the current construction at Chabahar at a cost of $340 million.

Outlining the outcome of his visit to India, Minister of Road and Urban Development Abbas Akhundi said Iran and India have agreed to sign agreements worth 2 billion dollars in railway transportation and Chabahar Port development project.

Akhundi told IRNA in an exclusive interview on Friday said that three important issues were discussed at the meeting with the Indian authorities, one of which was the development of the Chabahar to Zahedan railway worth one billion dollars.

‘The officials of the Indian company which is involved in this project visited Iran last week to make the necessary inspections and came back to thier officials with proposals about the development of the railroad link.’

He said the second issue discussed in the meeting with Indian officials focused on production of 200 locomotives for freight trains. ‘It was an important deal between India and Iran. India is ready to fund the project.’

Saying that a portion of the locomotives will be produced in Iran, he estimated the project to cost 600 million dollars.

‘The project will be completed in three years. India has immensely focused on developing its railway industries and has up-to-date technologies, so co-operating with India for Iran means gaining access to the latest technology in the world in this particular field,’ the minister added.

‘The third issue which was negotiated with India was the joint production of rails between India and Iran. Part of the rails will be purchased directly from India, but most part will be produced at Esfahan Steel Company. This Iranian company can receive 400,000 tons of steel from India,’ Akhundi said.