India and Iran on Saturday in a major development signed a lease for the Shahid Beheshti Port at Chabahar between Iran’s Port and Maritime Organisation and India Ports Global Limited besides inking slew of 12 other pacts across areas including trade promotion, agriculture, medicines and easy travel.
Chabahar Port lies just 90 km from the China-built Gwadar Port in Pakistan and gives India a strategic foothold in the region. The Chabahar project in south-eastern Iran is significant as it gives a transit route between India, Iran and Afghanistan bypassing Pakistan. It will also give India transit to Central Asia, Russia and other parts of Eurasia. Besides Iran agreed to convene a meeting in near future to operationalise INSTC.
India and Iran also agreed to expand counter-terror cooperation as both agreed that conditions that give rise to extremist ideologies must be addressed as well as states that support terror must be condemned.
As the agreement on Chanahar Iran is leasing to India a part of the area of the multipurpose and container terminal for 18 months to take over operations of existing port facilities in the first phase of the port development project.
India has committed $85 million for the development of the Shahid Beheshti Port.
The first phase of the port was inaugurated by President Hassan Rouhani in December last year, a little over a month after the first consignment of wheat from India to Afghanistan was sent via this facility. India has routed a consignment of 1.1 million tonnes of wheat to Afghanistan through Chabahar Port.
After holding talks with Rouhani here on Saturday, PM Narendra Modi in a joint address said, “We want to increase connectivity and trade; we want to strengthen our strong cultural ties. Landlocked Afghanistan has got a golden gateway in Chabahar… Congratulate Iran for it.”
Rouhani said India and Iran “have a good understanding on Chabahar… and the two sides will see more cooperation on energy, petrol and gas.”
Later delivering talk on Irans foreign policy priorities at ORF Rouhani warned USA that it will regret its decision if it pulls out of 2015 nuclear deal. “Iran believes in upholding agreement that it has signed. It does not pursue politics without ethics,” Rouhani asserted in a hard-hitting speech where he also blamed America for conflicts in West Asia.
India also reaffirmed its support for the nuclear deal during Modi-Rouhani dialogue.
Rouhani also supported India’s entry into UN Security Council as a permanent member.