Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is slated to inaugurate the first phase of Chabahar port which will open up a new strategic transit route among Iran, India and Afghanistan, bypassing Pakistan.
The port, located in Iran’s southeastern Sistan-Baluchestan Province, will be opened in presence of representatives from India, Afghanistan and several other countries of the region. The first phase of the Chabahar port project is known as the Shahid Beheshti port.
Ahead of the inauguration, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and her Iranian counterpart Javed Zarif held a meeting on Saturday in Tehran and discussed about the Chabahar port project among other issues. Swaraj made a stopover at Tehran on her return from Russian city of Sochi where she had attended the annual summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).
According to the MEA, “both sides (India and Iran) positively reviewed the initiatives undertaken since the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Iran in May 2016 including cooperation in Chabahar Port which will be inaugurated by the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran Hassan Rouhani on Sunday at presence of ministers from India, Afghanistan and the region.”
Iranian Foreign Ministry said Zarif referred to the Shahid Beheshti Port and said it reinforces Iran-India mutual and regional cooperation.
"It also shows the importance of the port in the development of the region and the routes that connect Central Asian states to other countries in the world through the Sea of Oman and the Indian Ocean," he said, according to the Iranian Foreign Ministry.
Over a month ago, India had sent its first consignment of wheat to Afghanistan by sea through the Chabahar port in Iran. The port is likely to ramp up trade among India, Afghanistan and Iran in the wake of Pakistan denying transit access to New Delhi for trade with the two countries.
India is looking to increase engagement with Iran by raising oil imports and possible shipments of natural gas and the issue is believed to have figured in the meeting.
Swaraj had paid a bilateral visit to Iran in April last year during which both sides had decided to significantly expand engagement in their overall ties, particularly in boosting Indian investment in joint ventures in oil and gas sectors.