India and Afghanistan reviewed developments relating to the Chabahar port project in Iran, which is strategically important for India as it is eyeing an investment of around Rs 2 lakh crore ($20 billion).
The two countries discussed the latest progress related to the port during a meeting between India’s Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar and Deputy Foreign Minister of Afghanistan Hekmat Karzai. Mr Karzai was in India to attend the Heart of Asia conference. The meeting was held on April 26.
The Chabahar port is located in Sistan-Balochistan Province on Iran’s southeastern coast. It is strategically significant for India as it will get sea-land access route to Afghanistan bypassing Pakistan. India will also get access to major Afghan cities such as Kabul, Kandahar, Heart and Mazar-e-Sharif once the construction of port is completed.
Why is Chabahar important for India and Afghanistan?
With Afghanistan being a landlocked country it has no access to free waters, and Karachi port in Pakistan is the sole route for Afghanistan through which they can engage in trade with the rest of the world. The Afghan officials have concluded that in cooperation with India, they must go for Iran’s southeastern Chabahar port, which can offer a good substitute for Karachi port.
Pakistan has also been hesitant to provide overland transit to Indian goods passing through its territory. India has pledged $20 billion for the project. For the development of the ‘South-North transit corridor’ and ports, Iran needed foreign investment. It welcomed India’s decision to invest in the development of Chabahar port and road and railway construction projects in southern Iran.
India will also benefit significantly from the Chabahar port as it could also gain access to Central Asian countries that are rich in the energy sector.
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