Iran opens first phase of 'strategic' Chabahar port

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The port located on the coast of the Gulf of Oman in Iran's southeastern Sistan-Baluchestan province has two docks.

Rouhani told reporters the first phase of the global Shahid Beheshti Port in Chabahar has been launched to connect the eastern and northern neighboring countries to Indian Ocean, adding that the North-South Transport Corridor is the main project among others, which connect the south of Iran to the north.

According to Iranian state media, the inauguration of the port was attended by delegates from 27 countries.

Upon the completion of the five phases of Shahid Beheshti development project, which also includes a railroad (Chabahar-Zahedan) to connect to the International North-South Transportation Corridor, the port's capacity will reach 85 million tons and that would improve Iran's transit services and facilitate trade between Europe and Central Asia through Iran. But New Delhi has proceeded cautiously at a time when the U.S. administration has taken an aggressive new approach toward Tehran.

According to an Indian External Affairs Ministry statement issued in New Delhi, Radhakrishnan represented India in the second meeting of the India-Iran-Afghanistan ministerial-level trilateral meeting on Chabahar port development on Sunday. The port is strategically important to India and Afghanistan.

The extension required an investment of $1 billion, including $235 million from India.

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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.

The port's inauguration comes more than a month after the first consignment of wheat from India to Afghanistan was sent via Chabahar. 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.

It was inaugurated in the presence of dignitaries from India, Afghanistan, Qatar and Pakistan.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani signed a pact in May this year to develop the Chabahar port and other related infrastructure.

Ahead of the inauguration, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj met her Iranian counterpart Zarif in Tehran on Saturday, during a surprise stopover on her way back from a Shanghai Cooperation Organisation meeting in Russian Federation, and discussed the port project among other issues.

It said that Zarif had referred to the Shahid Beheshti Port and said it reinforces mutual and regional cooperation between India and Iran.

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