Iranian President Rouhani inaugurates first phase of Chabahar Port

ANI | Updated: Dec 03, 2017 16:43 IST

Chabahar [Iran], December 3 (ANI): Iranian President Hassan Rouhani inaugurated the first phase of the Chabahar port, also known as known as the Shahid Beheshti port, on Sunday, opening a new transit route between Afghanistan, Iran and India.

The project was officially opened through a ceremony, attended by 60 foreign guests from 17 countries at the port located by the Oman Sea, IRNA news agency reported.

Speaking at the occasion, President Rouhani said that Afghanistan and countries to the north of Iran, including those in Central Asia, will now be linked to the south and the ocean.

He added that the port also bears political importance for Iran as it will connect the country to the European countries in the future.

The port located on the coast of the Gulf of Oman in Iran's southeastern Sistan-Baluchestan province has two docks.

Iran has invested about one billion dollars in building the first phase of the port.

The port will open Afghanistan and Central Asia to Indian commerce while isolating Pakistan.

India and Iran had signed a bilateral agreement last year, in which New Delhi would refurbish one of the berths at Shahid Beheshti port, and reconstruct a 600 meter long container handling facility at the port.

The bilateral agreement between India and Iran gives India the right to develop two berths of the Chabahar port as agreed in 2015 and allows them to be operated for 10 years by India Ports Global, a joint venture between Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust and Kandla Port Trust, in partnership with Iran's Aria Banader.

Ahead of the inauguration, India's External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had made an unscheduled visit to Tehran on her return from Russia, where she had attended the annual summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).

Swaraj met her Iranian counterpart Javed Zarif and discussed about the Chabahar port project among other issues of mutual intrest.

Zarif hailed the "good" and "growing" ties between Tehran and New Delhi during the talks, according to Iran's Foreign Ministry said.

He further pointed to the opening of Shahid Beheshti Port of Chabahar in southeastern Iran, and said it reinforces Iran-India mutual and regional cooperation.

"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 added.

Over a month ago, India sent the first consignment of wheat to Afghanistan through Chabahar Port, which Swaraj remarked as a gift from Indians to Afghans. (ANI)