Iran inaugurates Chabahar port extension

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Transit via Chabahar's Shahid Beheshti Port is $1,000 cheaper than ports of Pakistan and even 15 million rials ($375) cheaper than Shahid Rajaee Port, Iran's biggest container port at the mouth of the Strait of Hormuz, the director general of Ports and Maritime Organization of Sistan-Baluchestan Province, Behrouz Aqaei, said.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday inaugurated the first phase of Chabahar port that has been made by India.

The inauguration ceremony was attended by around 60 officials from 16 countries, including India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Qatar, and Turkmenistan.

With this, a new strategic transit route to Afghanistan and Central Asia have opened for India through Iran, bypassing Pakistan. But New Delhi has proceeded cautiously at a time when the United States administration has taken an aggressive new approach toward Tehran. India has been closely working with Afghanistan to create alternative, reliable access routes, bypassing Pakistan.

"Reiterating the importance of Chabahar as a hub for regional economic connectivity and their commitment to work towards this objective, the ministers commended the joint efforts of the three countries in the recent successful transit of wheat from India to Afghanistan through Chabahar".

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According to the Indian Foreign Ministry's website, Chabahar Port was scheduled to be inaugurated by Rouhani on Sunday at presence of Ministers from India, Afghanistan and the region.

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.

The first phase of the Chabahar port project, known as the Shahid Beheshti port, will bring the capacity of the port to 8.5 million tonnes of cargo annually, from the previous 2.5 million tonnes.

"We are happy that the first wheat shipment for Afghanistan has been sent to the country's people via the Iranian port", Rouhani said, according to IRNA news agency. India committed up to $500 million for the development of the Chahabar Port along with associated roads and rail lines.

Giving a boost to bilateral ties between India and Iran, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj made an unannounced visit to Tehran, while returning from Sochi in Russian Federation, ahead of the inauguration of the strategically important port.

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