India and Iran have signed a strategically significant deal to develop Iran’s Chabahar Port, giving India better access to Central Asia without going through Pakistan.
Yesterday both countries finally signed the long-pending contract, which will see India build and operate the port for 10 years The Hindu newspaper reports.
The facility will have two terminals and five berths. India has earmarked an investment of around $500m for phase one of the project.
"The bilateral agreement to develop the Chabahar port and related infrastructure… is an important milestone," India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi (pictured) said after a meeting with the Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani.
Chabahar Port has strategic importance for India as it allows the country to bypass Pakistan and directly access Afghanistan and Central Asian markets.
For Iran, the Chabahar Port scheme ties into its ambitious plan to develop a comprehensive rail network that would facilitate intercontinental trade.
"With our joint investments, we can connect India to Afghanistan, Central Asia and Europe," said President Rouhani.
Modi also held a trilateral meeting with President Rouhani and Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani. During the meeting, a trilateral agreement on transit and connectivity was signed, according to The Hindu newspaper.
Photograph: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arriving in Tehran’s Mehrabad Airport for a three-day state visit this week (Hamed Malekpour/Wikimedia Commons)