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Afghanistan, Chabahar Port and Trade discussed between Indian and Iranian FMs

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NEW DELHI : Even as the Taliban gets ready to form a new government on Friday, the situation in Afghanistan and the Chabahar Port Project were the major talking points between India and Iran on Wednesday.

In the first ever telephone call between external affairs minister Dr S Jaishankar and Iran’s new foreign minister Amir Abdollahian, the two sides discussed the evolving situation in neighbouring Afghanistan and the most important connectivity project Chabahar Port Project.

Since this was the first call since he became the foreign minister of Iran, the external affairs minister congratulated him and it was agreed that the two countries will continue consultations on Afghanistan.

When evacuation operations were being carried out to bring back Indian citizens and Afghan Sikhs and Hindus, New Delhi was in constant touch with various other countries and agencies in the region including Iran, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Qatar and the US. Till date 550 people have been evacuated and these include 260 Indians and other nationals.

COVID-19

Both ministers also talked about the vaccines. India had sent vaccines to Tehran to help in fighting COVID-19. And during the COVID-19’s second wave Iran had sent assistance to India.

During the oath-taking ceremony of the new Iran President Ebrahim Raisi in August, external affairs minister Jaishankar had represented.

Iran’s position on Afghanistan

In readout from that country, the foreign minister foreign minister Amir Abdollahian emphasized on regional approach to “defuse the crisis in Afghanistan.’’ And he reiterated his country’s principled policy – “Supporting the formation of an inclusive government in Afghanistan. And it is made up of all Afghan ethnic groups”.

The foreign minister of Iran called for expanding trade ties and speeding up the Chabahar project.

More about Chabahar Port

This is one of the most important connectivity projects between India and Iran, which provides connectivity to Central Asia and Afghanistan. And it is also the most important link to the international North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) which will connect India to Moscow.

This project has been in the making for almost two decades and in May 2016, India, Iran and Afghanistan signed a trilateral deal — The Chabahar Agreement. This strategic India-Iran-Afghanistan Trilateral Agreement on Transport and Transit Corridors was signed to help in facilitating trade with Russia, Europe, Central Asia and most importantly Afghanistan.

When India had signed the deal, it had committed USD 150 million for development of Phase I of Chabahar port and also offered assistance in laying of the rail network from Chabahar to Zahedan with onward connectivity to Zeranj-Delaram road.

Although Chabahar is strategically vital for India due to its commitment to Afghanistan’s economic growth and development, the withdrawal of US led forces have cast a shadow on the future development of the project.

Source : Financial Express


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