India, Iran, Afghanistan hold first trilateral on Chabahar port project
The first trilateral meeting between India, Afghanistan and Iran of Coordination Council of Chabahar Agreement was held in Tehran, capital city of Iran. India, Iran and Afghanistan in May 2016, had signed agreement which entailed establishment of transit and transport corridor among three countries using Chabahar Port as one of regional hubs.
Highlights of Meeting
Detailed discussions were held between three sides on full operationalisation of trilateral Agreement for international transit and transport through Chabahar port. They shared view that full operationalisation of Chabahar port will promote connectivity and economic development of Afghanistan and region. They also reviewed its implementation.
They also decided to constitute follow-up committee that will hold its first meeting within two months in Chabahar port. This committee will discuss and aim to finalise protocol to harmonise transit, roads, customs and consular matters for making the route attractive and decrease logistic costs. It was also decided to hold next meeting of the coordination council in India in the first half of 2019.
The meeting assumes significance as strategically-located Chabahar port on energy-rich Iran’s southern coast was coming under ambit of US sanctions on Iran. The sanctions were announced after US under President Donald Trump administration withdrew from 2015 Iran nuclear deal that lifted most of embargoes on Iran imposed for its suspected nuclear weapons programme. India is committed to Chabbar project despite threat of US sanctions on nations doing business with Iran including buying oil or investing in the country. It also has conveyed to US importance of Chabahar project, saying it can be major link for trade with war-ravaged Afghanistan.
Chabahar is strategically located in Sistan-Balochistan province on energy-rich Iran’s southern coast in Gulf of Oman. It is less than 100 nautical miles from Chinese built port of Gwadar in Pakistan. India in 2003 had first proposed developing Chabahar port. The port is seen as golden gateway for India to access landlocked markets of Afghanistan and Central Asian markets bypassing Pakistan. India and Iran had signed lease agreement for operation of Shahid Beheshti port or phase 1 of Chabahar in February 2018. Under the terms of this agreemetn, India Ports Global Ltd (IPGL), an Indian company was to take over interim operations of tport Chabahar and operate terminal for 18 months.