External Affairs Minister visits Iran

External Affairs Minister was on a two-day visit to Iran between December 22-23, 2019. During his visit he chaired the 19th Joint Commission Meeting with his Iranian Counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif.

Highlights

The leaders at the Joint Commission Meeting agreed to Strengthen and accelerate Chabahar project. The visit comes after US has provided narrow exemption to India from sanctions. US had earlier imposed sanctions on Iran for its accumulation of nuclear weapons. India has been exempted as the project intends towards development of Afghanistan.

The Minister also met Iranian President. The President expressed satisfaction in operationalization of Shahid Beheshti port as well.

Shahid Beheshti port

Chabahar is the only port of Iran. It consists of two separate ports namely Shahid Kalantari and Shahid Beheshti. India and Iran agreed to develop Shahid Kalantari port in 2003. However, it was dropped following sanctions on Iran. The project was again taken up in 2016. Under the agreement, India will construct 600-meter-long container handling facility at the port. India has already begun its operation at the port in 2016.

Other Discussions

India and Iran also agreed to celebrate their 70th anniversary of bilateral treaty of friendship in 2020. The countries will promote people-to-people contact, organize cultural festivals, youth exchanges and also exchanges between Parliamentarians

Background

India and Iran signed the “Chabahar Project” in 2017. It is an 85 million USD project that aims to develop Chabahar port in south-eastern Iran. The Chabahar port is an alternate route for trade between India and Afghanistan. The land route through Pakistan from India to Afghanistan is not accessible.

The project is also seen as a counter to Chinese Gwadar port in Pakistan.

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