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Chabahar port to be completed by 2019: India

AT Monitoring Desk-KABUL: In defiance of fresh US sanctions on Iran, India says the strategic Chabahar port in southeastern Iran will be made operational by the end of next year.

India’s Minister of Shipping Nitin Gadkari said on Friday the government in New Delhi was trying to operationalise the port, in which it has made heavy investments.

Speaking to the Indian diaspora in Dushanbe, he said: “India is trying to make Chabahar Port operational by 2019. The opening up of the port would make CIS countries more accessible.”

Currently, India’s trade with CIS countries and Afghanistan is solely dependent on the route that crosses through Pakistan. Oft-hostile relations between Delhi and Islamabad affect Indian trade.

“Chabahar port has the potential to become a regional transit hub for Afghanistan and Central Asian countries. It is expected the volume of trade will increase substantially following the commencement of operations at the port,” he said.

In late May, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj met in New Delhi on various options, including the rupee-riyal trade.

In 2016, India, Iran and Afghanistan signed a trilateral agreement on jointly developing the port. But the withdrawal of the US from the Iran nuclear deal and re-imposition of sanctions on the Gulf nation have put a question mark over the project.

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