New Delhi (Sputnik): As part of bilateral reciprocity, the Indian government has allowed a bank from Iran to open a branch in India, Minister of Transport and Shipping Nitin Gadkari said on Tuesday after meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in New Delhi.
"I am confident that we are in a position to start the full functioning of Chabahar port as early as possible. The Indian government has given permission for an Iranian bank to open branch in India in three months", Nitin Gadkari said while interacting with media alongside Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif.
On Monday, India's Ministry of Shipping announced the commencement of commercial activities in Chabahar within the framework of a trilateral deal, one that includes Afghanistan, aimed at developing the southern Iranian port into a regional trade hub. On 24 December, India inaugurated its operational headquarters called India Ports Global Chabahar Free Zone (IPGCFZ) at the port in a move to exercise its part in the accord.
The Iranian foreign minister said that the two countries have held very good discussions on every issue, including that of Chabahar.
Elaborating on his country's stance vis-à-vis the EU, Zarif added that Iran will keep working with Europe to put into effect a special purpose vehicle (SPV) for international trade with Tehran, but would not stand by waiting for the EU. The SPV is a financial mechanism devised by the EU to save the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and to continue to trade with Iran, neutralizing the US sanctions against Tehran.
"While we continue to work with Europe on SPV, we are not waiting for them. We are working with our traditional partners like India, China and Russia", Zarif clarified.
India started interacting with Iran on Chabahar Port around 2003, but a major push was received in the second half of 2014, resulting in the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the two countries for the development of Chabahar Port in May 2015. This MoU translated into a formal 10-year contract for equipping and operating the Chabahar Port, which was executed on 23rd May 2016, during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Tehran.
"This is the first time India will be operating a port outside its territories", the Ministry of Shipping pointed out.
"India is to equip and operate two berths in Chabahar Port Phase-I with a capital investment of $85.21 million and annual revenue expenditure of $22.95 million on a 10-year lease", the ministry added.
Zarif, leading a diplomatic and economic delegation, arrived in India on Monday evening for a three-day visit. Zarif expressed hope that Tehran and New Delhi would broaden their ties despite the US sanctions.