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Chabahar in focus again as Indian diplomats queue up to push development of strategic Iranian port

India and Iran now reset focus on strategically located Chabahar Port

Barely days after Deputy National Security Advisor Vikram Misri visited Tehran to attend a high level meeting on connectivity through the International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC), India’s Ambassador to Tehran Rudra Gaurav Shresth took a tour of the Chabahar Port to take stock of the situation. The back-to-back visits by Indian authorities are an indication that New Delhi is now looking at operationalising the port at the earliest. Besides, India is also aggressively working towards joining the dots on overall connectivity in the region that will enhance trade and other economic activities.

The Chabahar Port, strategically located in southern Iran, is being developed as a transshipment hub, and will be linked to the INSTC.

“Chabahar’s position in the expansion of trade exchanges in West Asia, Eurasia, and even Europe is unique,” Shresth said.

According to Tehran Times, Shresth also visited Shahid Beheshti and Shahid Kalantari ports, Chabahar’s Marine Traffic Control Tower, Shahid Kalantari Port Passenger Terminal, as well as the basin and access channel to Shahid Beheshti and Shahid Kalantari ports.

Notably, in May National Security Advisor Ajit Doval too was in Tehran. Doval even met Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and discussed issues relating to connectivity and trade.

Raisi underlined the need to take India-Iran ties to a “new level” especially with a focus on economic and commercial engagements.

Sources said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is personally taking a keen interest in the projects, has asked the relevant authorities to keep a close watch on the projects.

Earlier, this month, Iran officially entered the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. Modi, chairing the SCO meeting, underlined the need to build strong connectivity to boost economic activities among member countries. “Strong connectivity is crucial for the progress of any region. Better connectivity not only enhances mutual trade but also fosters mutual trust,” he said, adding that the INSTC could serve as a secure and efficient route for landlocked countries in Central Asia to access the Indian Ocean.

Most of the nagging issues related to the development of the port that came up between India and Iran have been resolved.

Ali Akbar Safaei, the Head of the Iranian Ports and Maritime Organization has noted that the total Chabahar investment will reach $80 million and will be part of a long-term agreement between Iran and India.

Amid changing geopolitical and geo economic dynamics, connectivity within the country and outside is now the major thrust of the Modi government. About 70 per cent of the work on the 1,400-km India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway has also been completed. Once complete, the project will provide India easy access to the Southeast Asian economies leading to a boom in trade and tourism.

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