Baku, Azerbaijan, Sept. 12
An Iranian official says that reports on handing over the operation of the strategic Chabahar port to India are not true.
Hadi Haqshenas, deputy head of Iran's Ports and Maritime Organization (PMO) for Maritime Affairs, told Iran's Young Journalist Club website that the statements of Roads and Urban Development Minister Abbas Akhoundi about the port’s operation were distorted in translation.
Last week Indian media outlets quoted Akhoundi as saying that Iran will hand over the port to Indian company within a month for operation as per an interim pact.
The issue raised criticism in Iran and some political groups slammed the Iranian administration on this issue.
Meanwhile, Haqshenas said that Iran has only handed over development of the port to the Indian side, not running it.
However, the official added that loading and unloading operations in the port is handed over to the Indian side.
Iran will never assign ownership of any port or land to another country, he said.
In the meantime, he added that in return for importing equipment and facilitating unloading and loading operations, the right to operate the Chabahar port will be handed over to India for a limited time.
The Chabahar port in the Sistan-Balochistan province in the energy-rich nation’s southern coast is easily accessible from India’s western coast. The port provides India with an easier land-sea route to Afghanistan. In November, India sent its first cargo of wheat to Afghanistan through Chabahar in what appeared to be a run dry of a multi-modal connectivity route.
A rail link between Chabahar and Zahedan and thereon to Afghanistan is a crucial part of India’s ambitious extra-regional connectivity plans over which Tehran, New Delhi and Kabul have signed a basic agreement.