Senior officials from Afghanistan, India and Iran signed a trilateral agreement in Tehran on Monday after, which will see the three countries develop the Chabahar port.
Ghani arrived in Tehran Monday morning for his one-day official visit, while India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi also witnessed the signing of the agreement. He is on a two-day official visit to the country.
Together Ghani and Modi met with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
The agreement to develop Phase I of Chabahar port is seen as India’s counter to the development of the deep-sea port of Gwadar, in Baluchistan in Pakistan, that opens into the Arabian Sea, and will allow China access to the Indian Ocean, reported Iranian media.
The development of Chabahar port, located about 70 km from Gwadar, will allow India to circumvent Pakistan and open up an alternative land-sea route for its trade with Afghanistan.
Addressing a joint press conference after the signing ceremony, Rouhani said the new agreement was a symbol of cooperation between the three countries.
He said the joint investment in Chabahar in Iran will connect Afghanistan with other central Asian countries, as well as the East and Europe.
“Business people of the three countries can now count on a new international corridor,” he said.
Rouhani said the agreement is not just an economic document but a political and regional one.
According to him, other countries will be able to join this project in future.
He pointed out that this move was not against any country, but was one in the interests of the region – for peace and prosperity.
He also said that all three countries had pledged to each task a minister to oversee progress on the port.
He said the three countries have pledged to follow up on project. Says ministers have been tasked to following up on the project
He also declared Monday, May 23, as their annual Chabahar Day.
Modi meanwhile said the signing of the agreement holds special significance for the entire region.
He said: “We stand together in unity for our purpose to carve out new routes for peace and prosperity,” adding that “today we write new chapters in our engagements”.
He also said the Chabahar Port will remove trade barriers in the region.
“This will be a corridor of peace and prosperity for our people,” he added.
Meanwhile, Ghani said that Asia is changing today and that it is moving towards an economic continent.
He said that in the next coming years, $60 trillion USD will be invested in infrastructure and most of it will be invested in Asia.
He also said that today will be considered as the beginning of regional cooperation to bring stability to the region.
In 2003, Iran and India agreed to develop the Port of Chabahar which sits on the Gulf of Oman.
The project was, however, suspended following the imposition of sanctions against Iran over Tehran’s nuclear program.
In May 2014, India and Iran signed an MoU to jointly develop the port once the international sanctions against Iran were lifted. Sanctions against Iran were lifted on January 16.
Chabahar is the closest and best access point of Iran to the Indian Ocean and Iran intends to turn it into a transit hub for immediate access to markets in the northern part of the Indian Ocean and Central Asia.