02:30 GMT +319 September 2018
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    A partial view of the Kalantari port in city of Chabahar

    India to Open Chabahar Port by 2019 Despite US Sanctions on Iran

    © AFP 2018 / ATTA KENARE
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    Participation in the development of Chabahar Port will provide India with an alternative and reliable access route into Afghanistan, utilizing India’s earlier investment in Afghanistan’s Zaranj-Delaram road, and also yield a more direct sea-road access route into the Central Asian Region.

    New Delhi (Sputnik): Despite renewed US sanctions on Iran, India is making every effort to make the strategic Chabahar port in South-eastern Iran on the Gulf of Oman operational; this would make the CIS more accessible to India. Nitin Gadkari, India's Minister for Shipping, announced on Friday that the government aims to operationalize the Iranian port, in which it has made heavy investments, by the year 2019.

    READ MORE: Iran Inaugurates New Extension to Its Main Port of Strategic Importance

    "India is trying to make Chabahar Port in Iran operational by 2019…The opening up of the Chabahar Port would make the CIS countries more accessible," India's Minister for Shipping Nitin Gadkari said while addressing the Indian Diaspora in Dushanbe on Friday.

    The Indian-backed Chabahar port complex in Iran will provide India much-needed access to landlocked, mineral-rich Afghanistan, opening avenues for trade worth millions of dollars. Presently, India's bilateral trade with CIS countries and Afghanistan is solely dependent on the route that crosses through Pakistan, and thereby subject to the fortune of often-hostile relations between Delhi and Islamabad.

    "Chabahar Port has the potential to become a regional transit hub for Afghanistan and eastern Central Asian Countries. It is expected that the volume of trade will increase substantially following the commencement of operations at Shahid — Beheshti Chabahar Port,"India's ministry of shipping stated in a press release.

    India has chosen an Iranian company, Kaveh Port and Marine Services, to run the Chabahar port for 18 months for an interim period starting June 13.

    The Indian government has also eased the rules for Indian companies hoping to manage, operate and maintain the containers and multi-purpose terminals at the Chabahar port for the next ten years.

    India and Iran have already been discussing strategies to withstand US sanctions. In the last week of May, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj sat for talks in New Delhi on this issue and discussed various options, including Rupee-Rial trade, so that bilateral trade between the two countries could continue without a blip.

    READ MORE: India Sends 1st Freight to Afghanistan via Iran Skirting Pakistani Bottlenecks

    India Ports Global Private Ltd and Iran's Arya Banader had signed a commercial contract for the development and operation of Chabahar Port in May 2016. As per the contract, India is constructing two terminals (five berths) at Chabahar Port with an investment of $85 million for procurement of port equipment. Additionally, India is providing Iran a $150 million loan through the Export-Import Bank of India (EXIM Bank) for the development of Chabahar Port.

     

     

     

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    Tags:
    strategic decision, bilateral cooperation, anti-Iranian sanctions, transport, Transportation Ministry, CIS, Gulf of Oman, India, Iran, Pakistan
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