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'Shouldn't take narrow view': Jaishankar on US warnings of 'sanctions' on Chabahar Port deal

The US warned that anyone considering business deals with Iran faces "potential risk of sanctions" after India signed a 10-year deal on Chabahar Port management. Notably, the flagship project provides India with an alternative way to transport goods to central Asian countries, bypassing Pakistan.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Kolkata Published on: May 15, 2024 6:59 IST
S jaishankar, EAM
Image Source : ANI External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar in Kolkata

Kolkata: After the United States warned of "potential risk of sanctions" as India struck a 10-year deal with Iran on operating a part of Iran's Chabahar Port, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Tuesday responded by saying that the project will benefit the entire region and a "narrow view" of the matter should not be taken. He further asserted that the US has previously appreciated the larger relevance of Chabahar in the past.

India and Iran on Monday signed a 10-year deal that would give India management control over a section of the crucial Chabahar Port, which opens up trade routes between India and land-locked Afghanistan, Iran and other Eurasian countries. India will take control of operations at the Shahid-Beheshti Port Terminal. Indian Ports Global Limited (IPGL) has committed to further equipping and operating the port for the duration of the contract.

'People should not take narrow view of it'

Speaking at an interaction after the launch of the Bengali version of his book 'Why Bharat Matters' in Kolkata, Jaishankar said, "I did see some of the remarks which were made, but I think it’s a question of communicating, convincing and getting people to understand, that this is actually for everyone’s benefit. I don’t think people should take a narrow view of it."

“They (US) have not done so in the past. So, if you look at the US’ own attitude towards the port in Chabahar, the US has been appreciative of the fact that Chabahar has a larger relevance…we will work at it,” he added. Jaishankar further said that India had a long association with the project, but was not able to sign a long-term pact, which was important. 

"Finally, we were able to sort this out and we were able to get the long-term agreement done. The long-term agreement is necessary, because without it you cannot really improve the port operation. And the port operation we believe, will benefit the entire region," he said.

What did the US say on the deal?

Earlier on Tuesday, the United States warned that "anyone" considering business deals with Tehran needs to be aware of the "potential risk" of sanctions. "We are aware of these reports that Iran and India have signed a deal concerning the Chabahar Port, I would let the government of India speak to its own foreign policy goals, vis-a-vis the Chabahar Port as well as its own bilateral relationship with Iran," State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel said in the press briefing on Monday (local time).

“I would just say...US sanctions on Iran remain in place and we will continue to enforce them. Any entity, anyone considering business deals with Iran, they need to be aware of the potential risk they are opening themselves up to, potential risk of sanctions,” he added.

Significance of Chabahar Port for India

The Chabahar Port is an India-Iran flagship project that serves as an important transit port for trade with Afghanistan and Central Asian countries, which are landlocked countries. India has been a key player in the development and operation of Chabahar Port. It allows India to bypass Pakistan's ports in Karachi and Gwadar and reach land-locked Afghanistan and Central Asian countries.

Indian Ports Global Limited (IPGL) has committed to further equipping and operating the port for the duration of the contract. At the end of the 10-year period, both sides would further extend their cooperation in Chabahar. IPGL will invest nearly $120 million in equipping the port. India has also offered an in-credit window equivalent to $250 million, for mutually identified projects aimed at improving Chabahar-related infrastructure.

The port also opens up a new vista of economic opportunities for business communities to explore an alternative transit route from the sensitive and busy Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz. However, US sanctions on Iran have slowed the development of the port. Chabahar is a key component of India's growing connectivity initiatives.

(with inputs from ANI)

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