Iran, India, Afghanistan sign strategic Chabahar Agreement (UPDATE 2)

Baku, Azerbaijan, May 23

By Fatih Karimov - Trend:

Iran, India and Afghanistan have signed an agreement on establishment of an international transport and transit corridor from Iran's south-eastern port of Chabahar.

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi signed the trilateral accord, dubbed the Chabahar Agreement, in Tehran, May 23, Iran's state-run IRINN TV reported.

Both Ghani and Modi are today on a visit in Iran.

On the sidelines of the signing ceremony, Iranian president said that Chabahar port will connect India to Afghanistan, Central Asian states as well as Eastern Europe.

He further said that the regional countries should use all available opportunities to expand relations.

Rouhani underlined that the joint activities between Iran, Afghanistan and India will be beneficial to the whole region and will contribute positively to the peace and stability, adding that other countries can also join the trilateral agreement of cooperation as well in the new future.

He also said that Iran's Urban Development and Road minister, Abbas Akhoundi and counterparts from India and Afghanistan will meet regularly to review the progress made in the project.

The Indian prime minister, for his part, said that the signed deal could alter the course of history in the region.

"The three-nation pact will strengthen our ability to stand in mutual support against those whose only motto is to maim and kill innocents," added Modi.

Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani also said on the sidelines of the signing ceremony that Asia is changing and moving towards being an economic power.

"In our decision we wanted to prove that geography is not our destiny and we are not restricted by geography, and by our will and resolution we can change the geography," he said.

The step that starts in Chabahar will be extended to a comprehensive development and it will lead to an economic and cultural cooperation, added the Afghan president.

The Chabahar port connects Central Asia with Southeast Asia. Establishment of the Chabahar Port and the Chabahar free zone promotes regional trade and commerce.

The port will open a transit route to Afghanistan and Central Asia for Indian goods and products, bypassing the land route through Pakistan.

New Delhi also wants to bring gas from Central Asia to the port and then transport it to India.

The route also provides Afghanistan with access to international waterways through the shortest, safest and most cost-effective routes, as well as an alternative transit route for the Karachi and Hairatan ports.

It also reduces the country's economic dependence on volatile routes passing through the unsafe territory in Pakistan.

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