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EghtesadOnline: The key Iranian port of Chabahar where India has a key stake is not only being expanded as a gateway to Afghanistan but also being considered as an entry point to Central Asia following President Hassan Rouhani’s reelection.

This was declared by an article published by Indian newspaper The Economic Times. According to Financial Tribune, excepts follow:

Tehran is considering a plan to link the strategically-located Chabahar Port with various intra-Central Asia transport corridors. Chabahar currently connects India with Afghanistan through road and plans are on by Tehran to build rail link with New Delhi’s support.

The Rouhani government’s plan to also link Chabahar with various Central Asian transport corridors will open up a second route for India’s outreach to landlocked Central Asia apart from International North-South Transportation Corridor that also passes through Iran.

India has been considering linking INSTC with various intra-Central Asian connectivity corridors, besides making Chabahar Port another entry point for INSTC.

Currently, the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas is the entry point for INSTC that will link India with Russia, Eurasia and Europe.

On Monday, Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj denounced misgivings regarding delay in India’s role in expanding Chabahar Port and asserted that work on the project has gathered momentum.

“Iran for centuries has been the hub for connectivity links for countries of Asia and Europe, including India. Connectivity is one of the key strengths of Iran and President Rouhani is keen to boost all connectivity initiatives through the country.

This is a priority sector for Iran and India’s role is vital in the connectivity initiatives. Chabahar will not only be gateway to Afghanistan but the plan is to also make it a gateway to Central Asia,” a top official of the Iranian government told The Economic Times.

The Chabahar port project was discussed during Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar’s visit to Tehran last month. Tehran has offered New Delhi a proposal to manage Phase 1 of the port built by Iran even as the two sides are still negotiating terms and conditions of India’s role in expanding Phase 2 of the port where the Narendra Modi government has announced to invest $235 million.

Tehran has offered New Delhi management rights for two years for Phase 1 of the port and such rights could be renewed by another decade.

India’s allotment of $235 million for Phase 2 of Chabahar is divided into two parts—$150-million line of credit from the EXIM Bank for development of the port complex and $85 million allotted later following contract between the two sides for the supply of equipment to develop two berths in the port complex.  A special purpose vehicle has been created by the Indian Shipping Ministry for the development of Phase 2 of the port. On the Iranian side, Ports and Management Organization is the nodal authority for implementing the project.

India has been given the rights to operate two berths and few terminals in Phase 2. India is eying the thriving free-trade zone in Chabahar to make the port viable, indicated a person familiar with the development.

Hassan Rouhani Chabahar port Iran's Chabahar Central Asia Corridors