India, Iran and Afghanistan look to expedite Chabahar pact

The strategic Chabahar port in Iran will bypass Pakistan to open a trade and transport route to landlocked Afghanistan. Photograph:( AFP )

PTI New Delhi, Delhi, India Sep 28, 2016, 05.13 PM (IST)

India, Iran and Afghanistan are keen on expediting the agreement on Chabahar port which will open a new gateway for their development and connectivity, India's senior minister Nitin Gadkari said today.

A transit deal on the Chabahar port in Iran will give India access to Afghanistan and Europe by bypassing Pakistan. India will invest $500 million to develop the port after a pact was signed with Iran in May.

Afghanistan signed a transport and transit pact with India and Iran in order to augment business opportunities between the three countries. 

"We are keen on expanding scope of cooperation to cover development of entire Chabahar Port...This port is going to open a new gateway not only for the development of India but at the same time development of Afghanistan and Iran. This is a win-win situation," shipping, road transport and highways minister Gadkari told PTI after holding a meeting with delegates from Iran and Afghanistan. 

Today's meeting was held barely a fortnight after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and visiting Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during their talks here, had emphasised on accelerating the trilateral pact.

"We will try to complete the project within the time schedule. We are also finding out what are the new things for which we will have opportunity for development and investment. The Iranian minister has given lots of innovative suggestions regarding the development of business," Gadkari said.

"We are in the process and our prime minister is very keen on the project...The distance between Kandla to Chabahar is less than the distance between Delhi to Mumbai. So there are lots of opportunities. Gas and petroleum products in Iran are available. We will get the market of Afghanistan also and the material from Afghanistan to Chabahar will be accessible to India." 

Gadkari and the visiting ministers today pored over the contract today in a bid to finish the project on time.

They also stressed on the need for expanding scope of cooperation to cover development of entire Chabahar port, projects for funding by EXIM Bank of India and reviewing participation of India in the Chabahar-Zahedan rail construction project.

(WION with inputs from PTI)