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International Relations

A view of the port in the city of Chabahar, Iran.AFPAFP  

India wants Chabahar port to be included in the 13-nation International North South Transport Corridor that extends from India to Russia, and expand INSTC membership by including Afghanistan and Uzbekistan, said External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and Ports and Shipping Minister Mansukh Mandaviya on Thursday. Pitching for Chabahar in the INSTC which goes via Iran’s biggest port Bandar Abbas, Mr. Jaishankar proposed that the land route via Kabul and Tashkent would form the INSTC’s “Eastern corridor”.

“Establishing an eastern corridor through Afghanistan would maximise its potential. India has also proposed the inclusion of Chabahar in the INSTC route. I am hopeful that during the INSTC Coordination Council meeting, member states would agree to the expansion of the INSTC route to include the Chabahar Port and also agree on expanding the membership of this project,” Mr. Jaishankar said at a “Chabahar Day” event organised as part of the 3-day “Maritime India” summit that was conducted virtually. The event saw participation from several regional officials including infrastructure Ministers from Afghanistan, Armenia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia and Uzbekistan. The Port has already handled 123 vessels and 18 lakh tons of cargo, said an official statement issued after the conference, which include trans-shipments from “Russia, Brazil, Thailand, Germany, Ukraine and the UAE”.

Predicting that Chabahar will change the “geo-economy” of the region, Iran’s Minister of Roads and Urban Development Mohammed Eslami called for assistance from India in developing the project, both through the provision of cranes and other equipment at the port as well as rail tracks, signal and switching equipment for the Chabahar-Zahedan railway project.

Credit lines

“I hope we can enjoy more credit lines allocated by India for equipping the port as well as completion of infrastructure projects of transport networks related to it,” Mr. Eslami said at the conference.

“India has participated in the first phase of development of Shahid Beheshti port of Chabahar and we are now witnessing the supplying of equipment. It deems necessary for the Indian operator to facilitate the process of supplying the remaining equipment,” he said.

Asked about the possibility of including Chabahar in the corridor, an Iranian official said Iran would “welcome it”, but that it is the INSTC governing council that would have to review the proposal.

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