Iran inaugurates new extension to its main Arabian Sea port

First phase of strategic Chabahar port, party developed by India, inaugurated by Iranian President

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. As per the reports, Iranian president Hassan extended $1 for the inauguration of Chabahar port in Tehran which will help the country become key transit route between Afghanistan and Central Asia.

In a visit by reporters earlier last week, Swiss-made cranes installed in the first operational jetty were unloading containers bearing the trademark of Iran's national shipping company - Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) - off a vessel that had just arrived from India carrying wheat shipments, which will be trucked to Afghanistan.

The port in Iran's Sistan-Balochistan province on the energy-rich nation's southern coast is easily accessible from India's western coast and is increasingly seen as a counter to Pakistan's Gwadar port, which is being developed with Chinese investment and is located around 80 kms from Chabahar.

27 delegates from India, Afghanistan and other Asian countries attended the inaugural ceremony of the port.

In October, India sent its first consignment of wheat to Afghanistan through Chabahar, which is about 140km from Pakistan's Gwadar port.

The overall development of the port is planned in four phases and is expected to bring its total annual cargo capacity to 82 million tonnes. The Indian government has committed United States dollars 500 million to Chabahar, with an aim to join an increasingly important transport corridor to resource-rich regional countries.

Chabahar provides India with an easy land-sea linkup with Afghanistan.

More news: Four cars stolen every hour in Delhi in 2016: NCRB

"We should go after positive competition", he said.

The country has already completed the Zaranj-Delaram road in Afghanistan that will enable Afghanistan to access the sea ports in Iran and end its dependence on Pakistan for sea access.

India has prepared massive investment plans, which will include a network of roads and railways at a cost of United States dollars 15 billion, as part of its strategic push in the area.

It can accommodate giant ships up to a dry weight of 120,000 tonnes, with further stages of development due to expand the port over the next 14 years.

India's quest to find a direct route to Afghanistan and beyond by bypassing Pakistan seems to be answered with the identification of Chabahar as its strategic gateway. The ministers agreed to further intensify efforts on issues concerning regional connectivity and to focus on Chabahar Port development under the May 2016 Trilateral Transit and Trade Agreement.

Just a day before the historic inauguration, EAM Sushma Swaraj made a surprise stopover at Iran on her way back from Russian Federation and met with her counterpart Javed Zarif.

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