New Delhi: The impact of American sanctions on the Chabahar port project was among the key issues which came up for discussion at the first tripartite meeting between India, Iran and Afghanistan in Kabul on Tuesday. Official sources said with the US sanctions over Iran coming into effect from November this year, their impact on the Persian Gulf nation’s Chabahar port project, which India is developing, were discussed in great detail.
They added that all ports in Iran have also come under American sanctions. The port in the Sistan-Balochistan province on Iran’s southern coast is also being developed by India and Iran, and this one too will be affected by the sanctions.
During the “2+2” talks in New Delhi last week with the United States, India had apprised the US delegation of the strategic importance of Chabahar to India, specially for enhancing trade with war-ravaged Afghanistan.
At the triparite talks, the Indian delegation was led by foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale while the Iranian team was headed by deputy foreign minister Abbas Araghchi. Afghanistan’s deputy foreign minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai chaired the meeting.
“The meeting focused on consolidating economic cooperation, including on Chabahar, and enhancing cooperation on counter-terrorism, counter-narcotics and continuing support to the peace and reconciliation process that is led and owned by Afghanistan,” the three nations said in a joint statement. It said the three sides had agreed to hold the next round of consultation at an appropriate time in India next year.
Chabahar port is easily accessible from India’s western coast and is increasingly seen as a counter to Pakistan’s Gwadar port, which is being developed with Chinese investment and is located at distance of around 80 km from Chabahar.
The first phase of the Chabahar port was inaugurated by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in December 2017.
Chabahar port is being considered a gateway to golden opportunities for trade by India, Iran and Afghanistan with Central Asian countries, besides ramping up trade among the three nations in the wake of Pakistan denying transit access to New Delhi.
Under the terms of an agreement signed between India and Iran in May 2016, India is to equip and operate two berths in Chabahar Port Phase-I with capital investment of $85.21 million and annual revenue expenditure of $22.95 million on a 10-year lease.