TEHRAN, Apr 29: The first phase of the strategically-located Iranian port of Chabahar, subject to $850 million of investment for development, is ready for operation, IRNA says.
Managing Director of Ports and Maritime Organization of Iran Mohammad Saeednejad expressed hope on Saturday that the section would become operational after the presidential election in May, the news agency reported.
The expansion of Chabahar on the Gulf of Oman has drawn interest from several foreign countries, notably India which seeks to gain a foothold in Iran and win access to the Central Asia and Afghanistan.
A report on Saturday said Tehran had recently proposed to New Delhi to manage the first phase of the port even as the two sides are negotiating the terms and conditions of India’s role in expanding phase two of the port.
The two countries have signed a commercial accord according to which India has undertaken to invest $235 million in the port.
India seeks to open up a route to landlocked Afghanistan where New Delhi has developed close security ties and economic interests and boost its stature in the region.
The country plans to develop two terminals and cargo berths in Chabahar under the deal which was signed during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Tehran last May.
India, Afghanistan and Iran separately signed an agreement to set up a trade and transport corridor during Modi’s trip that will have Chabahar as the hub. Road and rail links are to be built so that landlocked Afghanistan can get access to the Iranian port.
The trilateral agreement has been described as a game changer for regional connectivity, especially for Afghanistan which will be availed with a reliable alternate access to India via sea.
The planned north-south railroad could help Afghanistan exploit an estimated $1 trillion of untapped mineral wealth and reduce its reliance on international aid.