Baku, Azerbaijan, March 31
By Umid Niayesh - Trend:
Iran, Afghanistan and India are set to sign a memorandum of understanding which will give Kabul access to India via Iran's southern Chabahar Port, a senior Afghan official said.
Afghan foreign ministry spokesman Shakib Mostaghni said Afghanistan will connect to India via Iran in the near future, Iranian IRNA news agency reported on March 31.
He went on to say that the memorandum's text has been submitted to Indian officials to be studied.
Transit routes including Chabahar port have special importance for Afghanistan, the spokesman added. Earlier in mid-March Afghanistan's Foreign Minister Zarar Ahmad Osmani underlined that his country also wants to get access to the Black Sea via Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Georgia.
India offered to establish a direct shipping route to Chabahar Port in a bid to cut the costs of the transit of commodities between the two countries.
The offer was made during a meeting between Iran's Minister of Road and Urban Development Abbas Akhoundi and an Indian delegation of experts in Tehran in February.
India's ambassador to Iran, Shri D.P. Srivstava, who was present in the meeting, said that an Indian private company is ready to establish a direct shipping link between Chabahar and the Indian ports in order to bypass Dubai, where Indian container ships have to cross to reach Iran.
The Indian diplomat said the capital investment initially envisaged for the construction of a container terminal in Chabahar stands at $147 million.
In December 2013, Indian foreign minister, Salman Khurshid said that Chabahar port is the most economical route not only for access to Afghanistan but also for linkages with Central Asia.
He added that New Delhi is also interested in the port in order to ease the importation of minerals from Afghanistan.
Edited by C.N.