Iran Inaugurates New Extension to its Main Port of Strategic Importance

Geneva Matthews
December 4, 2017

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday opened the first phase of Shahid Beheshti Port in the southeastern city of Chabahar, official IRNA news agency reported.

India had been looking after the development of the Chabahar port as the Iranian government was focusing on its second phase.

India and Iran had signed a bilateral agreement past year, in which New Delhi would refurbish one of the berths at Shahid Beheshti port, and reconstruct a 600 meter long container handling facility at the port.

"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.

Transport Minister Abbas Akhoundi said Chabahar on the Gulf of Oman will "soon become an important commercial hub for Iran".

A month ago, India sent the first consignment of wheat to Afghanistan through the Chabahar Port, which Swaraj called a gift from Indians to Afghans.

Thus, India regards the port as a strategic response to China's development of the Gwadar Port, and its pursuit of the Belt and Road Initiative.

Analysts say the Chabahar port could challenge Pakistan's Gwadar port, some 80 kilometers from Chabahar, which is being developed with Chinese investment.

The first phase of the Chabahar port project, known as the Shahid Beheshti port, will bring the capacity of the port to 8.5 million tonnes of cargo annually, from the previous 2.5 million tonnes.

Swaraj said India remains committed to working closely with its regional and worldwide partners to restore peace, security, stability and prosperity to Afghanistan. "The routes of the region should be connected on land, sea and air", Rouhani said at the inauguration ceremony, according to his office.

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.

The three sides also commended the recent joint efforts that led to the transit of first tranche of 110,000 tons of wheat from India to Afghanistan through Chabahar Port.

Rouhani added that the port is also politically important "because it will connect us to the eastern and northern countries, and even to European countries in the future, and this is politically important to us".

Other reports by VideoGamingPros

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