India, Iran, Afghanistan discuss Chabahar port

Tehran: External Affairs Secretary (Economic Relations) T. S. Tirumurti with Iran's Ports and Maritime Organization (PMO) Managing Director Mohammad Rastad and Afghanistan's Transport and Civil Aviation Minister Muhammad Hamid Tahmasi at the 1st Trilateral Meeting of the Coordination Council of Chabahar Agreement between India, Afghanistan and Iran in Tehran on Oct 23, 2018. (Photo: IANS/MEA)

New Delhi (IANS): In the face of fresh sanctions imposed by Washington on Tehran over its nuclear programme, India, Iran and Afghanistan discussed the full operationalisation of the Chabahar port that the three countries are jointly developing at the first trilateral meeting of the Coordination Council of the Chabahar Agreement held in the Iranian capital on Tuesday.

"Detailed discussions were held between the three sides on full operationalisation of the trilateral agreement for international transit and transport through Chabahar port," the External Affairs Ministry said in a statement. 

"All sides shared the view that full operationalisation of trilateral Chabahar initiative will promote connectivity and economic development of Afghanistan and the region," it stated.

A decision was also taken to form a follow-up committee that would hold its first meeting within two months in Chabahar port.

"It would discuss and aim to finalise protocol to harmonise transit, roads, customs, consular matters that were shared by the Indian side at the meeting for making the route attractive, decrease logistic costs and pave the way for smooth implementation of the Trilateral Chabahar Agreement," the statement said

The port project on the southeastern coast of Iran has come under jeopardy after the US imposed fresh sanctions on the West Asian nation over its nuclear programme that are set to come into effect on November 4.

President Donald Trump has pulled the US out of the nuclear deal or the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) signed between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council along with Germany and the European Union (EU), to end sanctions in return for Tehran stopping nuclear weapons development.

India is investing $500 million to develop the Chabahar port and the road link from there to Afghanistan gives access to that country bypassing Pakistan.

Last year, New Delhi sent 1.1 million tonnes of wheat as aid to Afghanistan through Chabahar and the road link it built to connect it to that country. 

The port is also a key link in the International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC), a 7,200-km-long multi-modal network of ship, rail and road routes to move freight between India, Iran, Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Russia, Central Asia and Europe.

In Tuesday's meeting, the Indian side was led by T.S. Tirumurti, Secretary (Economic Relations) in the External Affairs Ministry, while the Iranian and Afghan sides were led by their respective Deputy Ministers of Transport.

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