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India to sign agreement for Chabahar port with Iran

Officials said the signing of the agreement is likely to be witnessed by Modi and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s two-day visit to Iran on May 22 and 23, the government Friday said that a trilateral agreement will be signed during the visit between India, Iran and Afghanistan on a transport and transit corridor using the Chabahar port as a hub.

Officials said the signing of the agreement is likely to be witnessed by Modi and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Afghanistan government officials indicated that President Ashraf Ghani is also likely to be present in Tehran for the signing of the pact, and details are still being worked out.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Shipping and Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari had prepared the groundwork over the last few months, even as Iran came out of the international sanctions regime.

On his arrival, Modi will be accorded an official reception following which he will hold talks with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Hosseini Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani. “The two leaders (Modi and Rouhani) will discuss in depth bilateral relations, and exchange views on regional situation and global issues of mutual interest,” Gopal Baglay, joint secretary (Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran) in the Ministry of External Affairs, said.

The two leaders will then witness the signing of bilateral documents after which Rouhani will host a lunch in Modi’s honour.

“Thereafter, the trilateral agreement on Transport and Transit Corridor among India, Afghanistan and Iran will be signed at a separate event,” Baglay said. “It will highlight the significance India attaches to developing connectivity, using Chabahar as a regional hub.”

The joint secretary said the bilateral contract on development and operation of Phase I of Chabahar port would be signed between Indian Ports Global and Arya Banader of Iran. “Documents on EXIM Bank line of credit to Iran, including for the port, will also be signed,” he said.

India will invest over $200 million as a line of credit, of which EXIM Bank will extend $150 million, in the first phase.
Progress on the Farzad B gas field would further elevate India’s energy partnership with Iran beyond a buyer-seller relationship, Baglay stated.

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