Chabahar Port and India-Iran Relations

Paro

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Dec 2, 2017
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Let's give it a couple of years. This Jan, Trump will complete 2 years in office. By Jan 2021, we'd know if he'd be around for another 4 years . We'd also get to know what happens in NK, Af Pak, Iran, Russia, China etc w.r.t the US and to the rest of the world. Right now, things are in a state of flux. By 2021, hopefully they'd be clearer & we'd see the contours of a long term future model prediction crystallising.

The way things are going Btw US and Iran are exactly the way thing went down a few years before the Second Gulf War. They are out for blood, Like literally
 
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safriz

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@safriz first tranche of payments already arrived from Saudi's?!!! That was quicker than expected. Hope that it's a stray incident.
Iranians should train and arm their border guards better so that some rag tag mountain monkeys cant kidnap them...
We had similar issues with our FC 5-6 years ago..Terrorists, miscreants would raid their check posts and kidnap them.. It was due to lack of equipment and poor training for the FC...
Since then FC has been improved maasively..
Iranians can follow suit..
 
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BlackOpsIndia

Team StratFront
Dec 1, 2017
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Iranians should train and arm their border guards better so that some rag tag mountain monkeys cant kidnap them...
We had similar issues with our FC 5-6 years ago..Terrorists, miscreants would raid their check posts and kidnap them.. It was due to lack of equipment and poor training for the FC...
Since then FC has been improved maasively..
Iranians can follow suit..
That's what I thought, or maybe it's a demo for services to be rendered after previous Saudi delegation asked for "feasibility study", they are coming back this week I guess, could inspect product personally before they invest in corporation.
 

Himanshu

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Chabahar Transit Agreement signed

The agreement was signed by Mohammad Rastad, the head of Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization (PMO), T.S. Tirumurti, the secretary of economic relations in India’s Ministry of External Affairs, and Imammohammad Warymoch, Afghanistan’s deputy minister of transport, during the first meeting of coordination council of agreement on the establishment of an international transport and transit corridor among Iran, India and Afghanistan (Chabahar Agreement).

Iran, India and Afghanistan signed a trilateral transit agreement in Tehran in May 2016, which allows the three countries open new routes to connect among themselves via converting Chabahar Port into a transit hub bypassing Pakistan.

Accordingly, through Chabahar Port India can bypass Pakistan and transport goods to Afghanistan and Central Asia, while Afghanistan can get linked to India via sea.

The document was signed in the presence of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

At the time, Modi announced that New Delhi would be investing $500 million in the strategic port.
Then during the visit of the Iranian president to India in mid-February, the lease contract for Shahid Beheshti Port-Phase 1 of Chabahar was signed between Iran’s PMO and India’s Ports Global Limited (IPGL).

Addressing the reporters and journalists on the sidelines of the first meeting of coordination council of agreement, Rastad announced that IPGL has made some investment for installation of equipment in the port and will start the task of equipping and operating in Chabahar by the next two weeks.

He also said that the next meeting of the coordination council of Chabahar Agreement will be held by the next two months.

Implementing the trilateral agreement, the three countries’ potential will be used for exports to the Central Asian countries, the PMO head noted.

“We are seeking more share of India’s cargo transport via Chabahar in a bid to promote competitive advantage of this port in the north-south corridor,” Rastad underscored.

‘A trilateral transport union necessary’

Addressing the Tuesday gathering, PMO Head Mohammad Rastad said establishment of a regional transport union between Iran, India and Afghanistan is necessary for the implementation of Chabahar Agreement and it will pave the way for development of multilateral transit in the region.
He mentioned multilateral investment making and contribution to development of transit infrastructures in the region and supporting private sector for the expansion of cooperation as some major suggestions by Iran for the better implementation of Chabahar Agreement.
Reducing transit tariffs and setting the same insurance and banking regulations for the tree parties will help economic and transit development in the three regional countries, the official opined.

‘Chabahar is transit hub of region’

Addressing the same gathering, T.S. Tirumurti, the secretary of economic relations in India’s Ministry of External Affairs, said Chabahar is the transit hub of region.
Chabahar Port is in the road that links India to Central Asia; so we can make this port a hub of our transit activities and we are eagerly waiting for the inauguration of Chabahar-Zahedan and Khaf-Herat railway projects.

Trilateral transit cooperation will lead to flourishing the region, he noted and said that India believes that Iran’s suggestions for facilitating and improving transit via Chabahar are acceptable and can be carried out.

At the end of his speech, the Indian official announced his country’s full commitment to the Chabahar Agreement.

Answering the reporters on the sidelines of the event, he referred to the strategic status of Chabahar and said: “Through development of railways, we can transit millions of tons of commodities from Mumbai to Chabahar every year and then from this port to the Central Asian countries and European ones via railways.”

‘Chabahar a priority for Afghanistan’

Afghanistan’s Deputy Minister of Transport Imammohammad Warymoch, for his part, said promotion of transit via Chabahar Port is a priority for his country and it requires cooperation and investment making by Iran, India and Afghanistan.

“We see development projects in this due necessary and our focus is on cooperation for implementing them”, he underlined.

Everybody knows that economic cooperation brings sustainable development for the region and it is why Afghanistan has brought regional economic cooperation under the spotlight over the past 16 years, the Afghan official noted.
MA/MA
 
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Ashwin

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US exempts India from sanctions at Chabahar port in Iran
The exemptions were linked to the reconstruction effort in Afghanistan, to which India has been a key contributor.

The US announced on Tuesday it has provided for an “exception” from certain sanctions — an exemption, in other words — to the Iranian port of Chabahar that India has developed and used for reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan.

This exemption is in addition to “temporary allotments” — Significant Reduction Exemptions —from sanctions that the United States announced for India and seven major importers of Iranian crude oil on Monday, when the second and final round of sanctions went into effect fully.

“After extensive consideration, the Secretary has provided for an exception from the imposition of certain sanctions with respect to the development of Chabahar Port and the construction of an associated railway and for the shipment of non-sanctionable goods through the Port for Afghanistan,” a state department spokesperson said in a statement to the Hindustan Times on Tuesday.

Afghanistan’s imports of Iranian petroleum products were also being exempted from sanctions, the spokesperson added.

The exemptions were linked to the reconstruction effort in Afghanistan, to which India has been a key contributor, a role that was recognised and reinforced by president Donald Trump in the South Asia strategy he announced in August 2017, earmarking an expanded role for New Delhi.

The spokesperson cited the strategy to say it “underscores our ongoing support of Afghanistan’s economic growth and development as well as our close partnership with India”.

And the US, the official said, seeks to “build on our close relationships with both countries as we execute a policy of maximum pressure to change the Iranian regime’s destabilising policies in the region and beyond”.

The Hindustan Times had earlier reported Chabahar had been possibly given an exemption as it had not figured in the comprehensive list of 700 sanctioned Iranian individuals and entities — 400 from the earlier rounds of sanctions and 300 new — that was published by the US treasury department on Monday. But there was no explicit announcement of confirmation, until Tuesday.

The state department confirmation should now lay to rest all uncertainties and concerns about Chabahar in New Delhi. With Pakistan denying India land transit through to reach Afghanistan, New Delhi developed an alternate route through Chabahar port in Iran, which it helped develop partly and also operates now.

India had lobbied the US privately and publicly for an exemption for the port citing the role it plays in Afghanistan’s reconstruction.

“Since its inauguration last year, we have shipped about 110 thousand metric tons of much-needed wheat and 2,000 metric tons of pulses from India to Afghanistan through this port,” Indian foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale had said at a conference in New Delhi Delhi last week.

“To tap its full potential for benefit of Afghanistan, we might also need to pursue the development of a rail line from Chabahar to Zahedan at some future stage,” he had added.

Zahedan is also in Iran but closer to the Afghanistan border.

@Hellfire @randomradio @BlackOpsIndia @Himanshu @safriz
 

RISING SUN

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Iran, India discuss trade cooperation under US sanctions
Outgoing Indian ambassador to Tehran and the head of Tehran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture have discussed ways of continuing Iran-India trade under reimposed US sanctions, Eghtesad Online news website reported on Saturday.

During the meeting, the Indian diplomat Saurabh Kumar and the Iranian official Masoud Khansari reviewed the ways to continue trade relations during sanctions. After US President Donald Trump's withdrawal from Iran's nuclear deal in May, the US has reimposed the stringent sanctions on Iran, including embargoes on Iran's banking and oil sectors, reports Xinhua.

The US sanctions may present a new window of opportunity for Iran-India ties, Khansari said, adding that the focus of mechanisms to facilitate cooperation between Iran and India should be laid on banking and financial cooperation.

He also highlighted the role of Iranian Chabahar Port in developing close cooperation with India, adding "now that the port has been exempted from US sanctions, the two sides must capitalise on this opportunity." "Sanctions create many problems, but they have also created this opportunity for us to tap into neglected capabilities and capacities," he was quoted as saying.

Tehran Chamber is conducting studies on regional trade partners, including India, for import and export purposes, Khansari said. For his part, Kumar presented a list of 1,000 goods items that Iran can import from India.
"Fortunately, trade based on national currencies of the two countries has become a clear and transparent mechanism, so Iran can provide a portion of its important needs by using India's rupee," Kumar said.

The Indian diplomat said that his country can import 300,000 barrels of crude oil per day for the next six months from Iran based on the US exemption, and half of its money will be wired to accounts belonging to the Iranian banks in Indian banks in rupees. Iran can, in turn, purchase essential goods such as food, medicine and humanitarian trade goods that are exempt from sanctions, according to the report.

The remaining half of the oil money may be exchanged into euros or other foreign currencies for Iran to receive and transfer, Kumar added, noting that a mechanism should be developed for this money to be transferred out of India.
Iran, India discuss trade cooperation under US sanctions | Business News
 

RATHORE

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Dec 2, 2017
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I really wonder what happens in Afghanistan now. US is pulling half its troops out; Russia & Iran which used to be aligned with us on AFG are now hoping to talk to and strike a deal with the Taliban. The Taliban and Pakistan, for all practical purposes, still have free reign. India and Afghanistan itself are looking increasingly likely to really lose out in all of this.
 
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Himanshu

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India officially takes over management of Shahid Beheshti port


CHABAHAR, Dec. 24 (MNA) – With the inauguration of the Indian Ports Global Ltd. (IPGL) office in Iran, the country has officially leased the operational control of Shahid Beheshti port to India under Chabahar agreement.

An official at Ports and Maritime Organization of Iran told reporters on the sideline of a trilateral meetingbetween Iran, Afghanistan and India on Chabahar agreement that the operational control of Shahid Beheshti port, as part of the strategic Chabahar port, has been officially leased to Indian Ports Global Ltd. (IPGL) today for a temporary period of 18 months, and a 10-year period afterwards.

The deputy head for ports and economic affairs, Mohammad Ali Hassanzadeh, said part of the IPGL tasks during its management over Shahid Beheshthi port will include loading and unloading, supplying equipment and marketing.

He noted that Chabahar agreement would facilitate transit of goods between India and Afghanistan and play an important role in the economic growth of the region.

According to him, Chabahar port offers the most tariff incentives for ports and maritime services among other ports in the Sea of Oman and the Persian Gulf regions, saying Chabahar is the best spot for transit and trade between India, Afghanistan and other countries in the region, especially the CIS states.

Talking about the session held today between members of the follow-up committee on Chabahar port’s trilateral agreement, Hassanzadeh said the session discussed a wide range of topics including: choosing routes for goods transfer; plans for marketing, how to attract businessmen and investors; discussing the opportunities and capacities available for using the Chabahar port in the supply chain; as well as facilitating trade, the role of operators, customs, and exchange of information.

The project to develop Shahid Beheshti Port – Iran’s only oceanic port – started in 2007 through an investment amounting to $1 billion. The annual cargo tonnage of the port, according to reports, reaches as high as 8.5 million tonnes.

The agreement for leasing the operational control of Shahid Beheshti Port was signed during President Hassan Rouhani’s visit to New Delhi in February 2018.


India to officially start operating Shahid Beheshti Port in Chabahar

According to Mohammad-Ali Hassanzadeh, under the contract between PMO and India Ports Global Limited (IPGL), India would operate phase 1 of Shahid Beheshti Port for a term of one and a half year.

“The short-term lease then will be extended to a 10-year lease if the two sides agree to do so”, the official said.

Hassanzadeh further noted that the short-term lease would see IPGL to conduct operations like loading and unloading, equipment supply and marketing at the mentioned port.

The IPGL office is opened concurrent with the first meeting of Chabahar Agreement Committee’s parties to monitor the implementation of the trilateral agreement.

Delegations from India, Afghanistan and Iran visited various parts of Shahid Beheshti Port to assess the infrastructure and investment opportunities as well as commercial and transit facilities of Chabahar Port.
 

BMD

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Wasn't that one of the maps on Battlefield 4? Gulf of Oman.
 

RISING SUN

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India exempts rupee payments for Iran oil from hefty taxes
The finance ministry has exempted rupee payments made to the National Iranian OilNSE -1.91 % Co. for crude oil imports from a steep withholding tax, according to a government order reviewed by Reuters.

The exemption, put in place December 28 but backdated to November 5, will allow Indian refiners to settle about $1.5 billion of outstanding payments to NIOC. Those have been building up since Tehran was put under stringent US sanctions in early November.

The two countries on November 2 signed a bilateral agreement to settle oil trades through an Indian government-owned bank, UCO Bank, in the Indian currency, which is not freely traded on international markets.

However, the income of a foreign company that is deposited in an Indian bank account is subject to a withholding tax of 40 percent plus other levies, leading to a total take by the authorities of 42.5 percent.


That made the agreement unworkable for Iran and led to the freeze in payments by the refiners until the exemption could be introduced.

Iran will be able to use the rupee funds for a range of expenses - including imports from India, the cost of its missions in the country, direct investment in Indian projects, and its financing of Iranian students in India, according to another government document reviewed by Reuters.

It can also invest the funds in Indian government debt securities. "In the previous round of sanctions Iran was allowed to use funds for imports from India but this time we have expanded the scope for use of funds to benefit both nations," said an Indian government official, who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue.
The move may help India fix its trade balance, which is currently tilted in favour of Iran.

The tax exemption order, though, only refers to crude oil. That means it does not apply to imports of other commodities, such as fertiliser, liquefied petroleum gas and wax.

India, Iran's top oil client after China, has turned to paying for Iranian oil in rupees as major banking channels dealing in global currencies are closed off by the U.S. sanctions.

"Passing of this notification eases constraints for Indian refiners to make payment," said Sanjay Sudhir, joint Secretary in India's oil ministry.


An official from India's top refiner and Iran's top customer in the country, Indian OilNSE -0.33 % Corp, said his company would start making payments to Iran from January.

The finance ministry did not respond to a request for comment. Indian Oil Corp and UCO Bank also did not respond.

Last month, the United States introduced the sanctions aimed at crippling Iran's oil revenue-dependent economy because of its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes and its support for militant proxies in the Middle East. Washington did, though, give a six-month waiver from sanctions to eight nations, including India, and allowed them to import some Iranian oil.


India's overall imports from Iran totalled about $11 billion in April-November 2018, with oil accounting for about 90 percent of the imports.

Iran will be able to register as a foreign portfolio investor, allowing it to invest in Indian government debt.

The direct investment provision could help Iran in participating in Indian oil refiner Chennai Petroleum Corp Ltd's expansion plans. Iran owns 15.4 percent of the company.

Iran which used to be the third biggest oil supplier to India slipped to No. 6 in November, according to ship tracking data and industry sources.
India exempts rupee payments for Iran oil from hefty taxes
 

RISING SUN

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Tehran will never forget India’s support: Mohammad Javad Zarif
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Tuesday exhorted that Tehran will never forget the way Delhi supported his country during difficult times and will stand by India under all possible circumstances.

“India was on our side through the difficult times and that is why we will never forget you when better times come and I assure you better times will come,” Zarif said in his remarks at a CII event here.

"Challenges will be overcome. Sanctions are not new for Iran. We have been under one or the other kind of sanction for forty years. What was different from 2008 to 2012 to 2014 was that from our perspective, even if unjustifiably, we were sanctioned under the UN. We will continue to survive and deal with our friends," noted Zarif who will deliver a policy speech on Wednesday at the Raisina Dialogue. “We work with the East and the West. We believe, we do not need to take sides,” he said.

“Iran is the most reliable energy provider for India. We have never allowed any consideration to impede our economic relations with our partners. We’ve always been there and we will always be there. In Iran, we rely on our own people for our security, for economic development, for scientific development. That does not mean isolation,” Zarif added.
Tehran will never forget India’s support: Mohammad Javad Zarif
 

Himanshu

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India Begins Trade Through Iran's Chabahar Port, Afghanistan to Soon Follow Suit

India will send shipments to Iran from ports in Mumbai, Kandla, and Mundra, every two weeks. The first such shipment comprising 3700 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) of Indian goods reached Chabahar on Sunday, according to Iran's ports and maritime agency. Afghanistan is also set to send its first shipment to India via Chabahar within a month.

A month after formally taking over operations of part of Iran's Shahid Beheshti Port in Chabahar, Indian Ports Global Limited has opened a shipping line between the Iranian port and three ports in Mumbai, Kandla and Mundra.

Behrouz Aghaei, the director general of Sistan and Baluchistan's Ports and Maritime Organisation, announced that the first cargo ship from India, which arrived at the Shahid Beheshti dock of Chabahar Port on January 27 at 10.30 am (Indian Standard Time), was destined for Bandar Abbas.

Meanwhile, Afghanistan is expecting to ship its first cargo of five containers to India via Chabahar in a month or less.

"Husne Mubarak Azizi, head of foreign affairs and Ministry of Transport of Afghanistan stated that Afghanistan is preparing to ship the first cargo of five containers through Chabahar to India, which will take place within a month or less. The cargo is mung beans and each container will weigh about 22 tons. The delivery of this 5 container cargo will be carried out under the international customs transit system (TIR) system," a release by the Iranian government reads.

TIR streamlines procedures at borders, reducing the administrative burden for customs authorities and for transport and logistics companies. It cuts border waiting times significantly, saving time and money. Each TIR transport is entirely monitored online, so goods can be traced and secured while in transit.

Indian Ports Global Limited, an Indian state undertaking, took over the operations of parts of Shahid Beheshti Port, Chabahar in Iran during the Chabahar Trilateral Agreement meeting held on the 24 December 2018. The heads of the Indian, Iranian and Afghanistan delegations jointly inaugurated the office of the Indian SPV — India Ports Global Chabahar Free Zone (IPGCFZ), at Chabahar. The physical take-over of the terminal area, cargo handling equipment and office building was completed by 29 December 2018.

Chabahar is India's gateway to Eurasia and key to the development of landlocked Afghanistan. While India was amply clear on its intention of using the port as part of its wider Indo-Pacific connectivity project, kick-starting operations on the face of the threat of US sanctions was a tricky matter.

However, India received a waiver from the US after the Narendra Modi government dug its heels and announced it would continue to be active in Chabahar even in the absence of a waiver.
 

RISING SUN

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India, Iran plan to celebrate 'Chabahar Day' to showcase business potential
India and Iran will celebrate ‘Chabahar Day’ on February 26 at a mega event in Iran’s strategically located port, which is operated by India. The jointly organised event will showcase business potential of the port and the proposed economic zone that present a stark contrast to Pakistan’s Gwadar Port, which China hopes to build as a military facility, said officials.

India and Iran will celebrate ‘Chabahar Day’ on February 26 at a mega event in Iran’s strategically located port, which is operated by India. The jointly organised event will showcase business potential of the port and the proposed economic zone that present a stark contrast to Pakistan’s Gwadar Port, which China hopes to build as a military facility, said officials.

Iran is pitching the event as an opportunity for businessmen, traders, freight companies, and national and international liners from various countries, said an Iranian official. One of the main goals is enabling entry of large international shipping liners into the port, he said. The port, India’s key link to Afghanistan and Eurasia, became operational for transit to Kabul following a tripartite agreement between India, Afghanistan and Iran. India Ports Global Limited, which is operating the Shahid Beheshti terminal, opened an office in the port in December last year.

On December 24, 2018, India, Iran and Afghanistan jointly inaugurated the office of the Indian special purpose vehicle – India Ports Global Chabahar Free Zone (IPGCFZ) – in the port. The physical takeover of the terminal area, cargo handling equipment and office building was completed five days later.

Commercial operations began at IPGCFZ with the arrival of a Cyprus registered bulk carrier with 72,458 MT of corn cargo.

India is also developing a 500-km-long Chabahar-Zahedan railway link that will connect Afghanistan’s Zaranj-Delaram road and bring Iran and Afghanistan closer.

The Chabahar port is a key pillar of India’s Indo-Pacific strategy that also connects Eurasia with the Indian Ocean Region, according to experts.

India, Iran plan to celebrate 'Chabahar Day' to showcase business potential
 
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RISING SUN

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Oman ready to invest in Iran’s Chabahar port: envoy
Oman Ambassador to Iran Saud bin Ahmad Khalid al-Barwani made the remarks in a meeting with the managing director of Chabahar Free Zone Abdulrahim Kurdi on Sunday afternoon.

“Increasing business and economic cooperation between Oman and Iran could lead to the development of relations between the two countries,” al-Barwani said.

The ambassador further described Chabahar as the best platform for Iran-Oman relations, adding that the port can play an important role in the development of regional trade in the future.

He also attached great importance to the tourism, commercial and economic potentialityies of Chabahar, saying that the Iranian port is an attractive area in the region for investment.

The Omani diplomat expressed Oman’s readiness to implement phase 2 of Chabahr’s Shahid Beheshti port along with the passenger terminal of Shahid Kalantari Port there.

In the meeting, the managing director of Chabahar Free Zone Abdulrahim Kurdi, for his part, detailed the commercial and trade capabilities and the potentialities of Chabahar Free Zone, stressing that his organization seeks to provide high-quality services to the investors in order to play a positive role in the relations between Iran and Oman.

He further said that Iran-Oman bilateral cooperation plays a positive role in the economic development of the region, adding that the Chabahar Free Zone is ready for more industrial and agricultural investment.


He also emphasized that the talks and relations between Oman and Chabahar Free Zone must become operational.

While in Chabahar, the Omani ambassador along with his accompanying delegation visited the commercial, transit and tourist facilities of the port and the coastal region of Chabahar
Oman ready to invest in Iran’s Chabahar port: envoy
 

RISING SUN

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India’s 2019 budget allocates $21m to invest in Chabahar development
TEHRAN- The Indian government in its budget for 2019 has allocated 1.5 billion rupees ($21 million) for development of Iran’s southeastern port of Chabahar, the Financial Express reported on Saturday.

“For Chabahar port, New Delhi’s key connectivity plan with Afghanistan and central Asia remained unchanged from the previous year at Rs 150 crore”, the report read.

In October 2018, Iran, India and Afghanistan inked an agreement on transit of goods via Chabahar.

The agreement was signed in Tehran during the first meeting of coordination council of agreement on the establishment of an international transport and transit corridor among Iran, India and Afghanistan (Chabahar Agreement).

These three countries had signed a trilateral transit agreement in Tehran in May 2016, which allows them open new routes to connect among themselves via converting Chabahar Port into a transit hub bypassing Pakistan.

Then during the visit of the Iranian president to India in February 2018, the lease contract for Shahid Beheshti Port-Phase 1 was signed between Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization (PMO) and India’s Ports Global Limited (IPGL).

India then inaugurated a headquarters called India Ports Global Chabahar Free Zone (IPGCFZ) at the port to help it commit to its part in the accord.

India’s commercial operations began at Chabahar with the arrival of a Cyprus registered bulk carrier bearing 72,458 million tons of corn (imported from Brazil) at the port on December 30.
India’s 2019 budget allocates $21m to invest in Chabahar development
 

RISING SUN

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The road to peace runs through Tehran
Even if an American military pullout from Afghanistan is on the cards, the U.S. will want to leave behind a stable country. And any peace settlement in Afghanistan will stand a better chance of staying on the rails if it is supported by regional powers. In other words, ties between Afghanistan and its neighbours, including Iran, will impact the security of southern and western Asia. Like India, Russia, China and the U.S., Iran would want to see a steady hand at the helm in Afghanistan. While lacking military influence, India can build on its good ties with the U.S. and Iran to secure Afghanistan.

Iranian continuity
Iran is not a newcomer to regional diplomacy in Afghanistan. First and foremost, India should try to dissuade the U.S. from dealing with Iran, Russia and China as enemies. In fact, U.S. President Donald Trump’s perception of all three as foes is at odds with America’s earlier engagement with them to end its military campaign in Afghanistan. For instance, from 2014 to 2016, Washington and Moscow quietly arranged talks on the Afghan peace process. The meetings, known as the 6+1 group, included representatives from Afghanistan, China, India, Iran, Pakistan, Russia, and the U.S. The 6+1 process assumed that each of these countries was essential to the achievement of a political settlement in Afghanistan. Moreover, last November, the U.S. and the Taliban joined for the first time the Russia-hosted conference in the hope of promoting a negotiated solution to achieve peace and national reconciliation in Afghanistan.

Regional powers could put their weight behind a negotiated settlement that will ensure Afghanistan’s stability. Iran, Russia and China — and the Central Asian states with which India and Afghanistan wish to cooperate in countering terrorism — fearf that continued instability in Afghanistan could spill over into their countries. India will also be adversely affected if negotiations break down. In that event, extremist exports from Pakistan to Afghanistan or India would probably increase.

It could be worthwhile for India to explore the Iranian diplomatic options to secure Afghanistan. On good terms with Tehran, New Delhi would gain by developing the Chabahar port in southern Iran. And looking beyond Chabahar, India, Iran and Russia were the founding countries of the International North-South Transport Corridor project — as long ago as 2002. The corridor is intended to increase connectivity between India, Iran, Russia, landlocked Afghanistan and Central Asia — and Europe. It would also advance their trading interests.
India could remind Washington about the past coincidence of American and Iranian interests on Afghanistan. Together with the U.S. and India, Iran supported the overthrow of the Taliban in 2001. In the international negotiations which followed in Bonn that year, Iran supported the installation of Hamid Karzai as President and favoured the exclusion of the Taliban from his government.

Admittedly, U.S.-Iran ties have often been fractious. As the U.S. imposed sanctions on Iran after 2005, Iran saw the Taliban countering American influence on its borders and gave them arms. Iran continues to oppose the U.S.’s presence in Afghanistan, largely because it fears that American troops in Afghanistan could be used against it. To allay Iranian fears, Afghanistan recently said that it would not allow the U.S. to use its bases in the country to conduct any act of aggression against Iran.

Last December, Iran also held talks with the Taliban with the knowledge of the Afghan government. But it should assure Kabul of its good intentions. In recent months Afghan officials have accused Iran, which the U.S. says is trying to extend its influence in western Afghanistan, of providing the Taliban with money, weapons and explosives. Iran denies the charge.

The U.S. and Iran could be advised of the mutual, and regional, advantages of improving ties. Such advantages could range from stability in Afghanistan, and beyond, to increased trade prospects, especially in South and West Asia.
Win-win prospects
Iran could gain by strengthening trading ties with a secure Afghanistan. In 2017 it supplanted Pakistan as Afghanistan’s largest trading partner. At a time when Iran’s economy is weighed down by American sanctions, it would want to build up trade ties with neighbouring states.

The U.S. would also gain. After all, Iran is the geopolitical hub connecting South, Central and West Asia and the Caucasus. The Strait of Hormuz, that crucial conduit, links Iran westwards to the Persian Gulf and Europe, and eastwards to the Gulf of Oman, South and East Asia. Moreover, an improvement in U.S.-Iran relations would be welcomed by America’s European allies, who are opposed to Washington’s unilateral sanctions on Iran.

The U.S. should not lose the chance to act in concert with Iran to improve Afghanistan’s security. And, as the U.S. airs the idea of withdrawal from Afghanistan, now is the right time for India to act as the honest broker between them and to play a larger role in regional security. The status of India and Iran as regional powers as well as the stability of South, Central, and West Asia would simultaneously be enhanced. It is to be hoped that Mr. Trump’s display of America’s “superpower” in opposition to Iran — and Russia and China — will not block such an opportunity to stabilise Afghanistan.
The road to peace runs through Tehran