Long-term pact with Iran on Chabahar a ‘major achievement’, says India | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Long-term pact with Iran on Chabahar a ‘major achievement’, says India

May 18, 2024 01:22 AM IST

India hails long-term pact with Iran for Chabahar port as key for regional connectivity hub; US acknowledges project's significance despite sanctions risk.

NEW DELHI: India on Friday described its long-term pact with Iran for operations at Chabahar port as a major achievement for creating a connectivity hub for landlocked countries in the region, and said even the US has appreciated the larger relevance of this project.

Union minister for ports, Sarbananda Sonowal at the signing of a contract between India Ports Global Ltd. & Ports and Maritime organisation of Iran for the operation of the Shahid Beheshti Port in Chabahar, Iran. (PTI)
Union minister for ports, Sarbananda Sonowal at the signing of a contract between India Ports Global Ltd. & Ports and Maritime organisation of Iran for the operation of the Shahid Beheshti Port in Chabahar, Iran. (PTI)

External affairs ministry spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal made the remarks at a regular media briefing while responding to questions about a US warning regarding the potential risk of sanctions on Indian entities eyeing business deals with Iran following the signing of the 10-year agreement on Chabahar port on May 13.

Jaiswal described the long-term agreement, signed in Tehran in the presence of ports and shipping minister Sarbananda Sonowal, as a “major achievement” in the context of India’s commitment to realise the potential of Chabahar port as a connectivity hub for Afghanistan and the Central Asian countries, which are all landlocked.

State-run India Ports Global Limited (IPGL) has been operating a terminal at Chabahar port since 2018 on an interim lease, and the long-term agreement was essential for port operations.

“The US understands the importance of Chabahar port for continued humanitarian supplies to Afghanistan and to provide Afghanistan with economic alternatives,” Jaiswal said. He noted that external affairs minister S Jaishankar has said a “narrow view” should not be taken on this issue.

Also Read: Why Iranian envoy thinks US won’t impose sanctions on India over Chabahar port

“The project will benefit the entire region and connectivity, particularly landlocked Afghanistan and Central Asia. The US has in the recent past appreciated the larger relevance of Chabahar project, particularly in the context of humanitarian supplies to Afghanistan,” he said.

Chabahar port has been used on several occasions to provide humanitarian assistance, including the supply of 85,000 tonnes of wheat, 200 tonnes of pulses and 40,000 litres of the pesticide Malathion to Afghanistan.

Without giving details, Jaiswal said the Indian side will take forward the conversation on Chabahar port with the US.

The 10-year agreement between India and Iran is aimed at facilitating the long-term development of Shahid Beheshti terminal of Chabahar port. The Indian side plans to invest $120 million on equipping the terminal and New Delhi has offered a credit window of $250 million to improve infrastructure around Chabahar.

After India, Afghanistan and Iran signed a tripartite agreement for developing the port in 2016, the US had granted a carve-out for Chabahar from its sanctions regime for Iran in 2018. At that time, the US decision was influenced by the port’s potential for facilitating trade and development in Afghanistan.

Hours after the signing of the agreement, US state department deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel said American sanctions on Iran remain in place and will continue to be enforced. Any entity considering business deals with Iran will be open to the “potential risk of sanctions” and there is exemption for the new India-Iran agreement, he said.

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