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Chabahar port, made by India, inaugurated in Iran

Iranian President inaugurates first-phase of Chabahar port

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

However, Iran has assured Pakistan that Chabahar is not being developed to Gwadar, which is itself now being developed under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

The project was officially opened in a ceremony attended by 60 foreign guests from 17 countries at the port located by the Sea of Oman. "The project is specifically important, as it connects the trade corridors passing through Iran to the ocean", he said. India's state-owned IRCON has agreed to build a rail route at a cost of $1.6 billion as part of the transit corridor to Afghanistan.

India, Iran and Afghanistan recently signed an agreement to give Indian goods, heading toward Central Asia and Afghanistan, preferential treatment and tariff reductions at Chabahar. India has committed $500 million to build the port to bypass Pakistan.

India has prepared massive investment plans, which will include a network of roads and railways at a cost of United States dollars 15 billion, as part of its strategic push in the area.

Iran is planning to link the Chabahar port with a railway to the northeastern city of Mashhad to further facilitate trade with Afghanistan and Central Asia.

It was inaugurated in the presence of dignitaries from India, Afghanistan, Qatar and Pakistan.

Reiterating the commitment to complete and operationalise the Port at the earliest, Radhakrishnan, along with Iranian Transport Minister Dr Abbas Akhoundi and Afghanistan Trade and Commerce Minister Humayoon Rasaw, reviewed and positively assessed the progress in the development of the Chabahar Port in the trilateral meeting.

"The shipment of wheat is a landmark moment as it will pave the way for operationalization of the Chabahar port as an alternate, reliable and robust connectivity for Afghanistan", the ministry of external affairs (MEA) had said in a statement. In October, India sent a first consignment of wheat to Afghanistan through Chabahar.

India and Iran signed an agreement in May 2016 during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Tehran under which India is to equip and operate two berths in the first phase of the Chabahar port with capital investment of $85.21 million and annual revenue expenditure of $22.95 million on a 10-year lease.

"We should go after positive competition", he said in his inauguration speech. "It was also made a decision to convene an expert level meeting of senior officials of the three countries at the earliest", the statement said. "It is expected that a trilateral coordination meeting of senior officials will be convened at the earliest".

Iranian Foreign Ministry said Zarif referred to the Shahid Beheshti Port and said it reinforces Iran-India mutual and regional cooperation.

Further boosting up the bilateral ties between India and Iran, Swaraj, on her way back from Sochi in Russian Federation, made an unannounced visit to Tehran, ahead of the inauguration of the first phase of the key port - in which the Iranian government has invested about one billion dollar.