India, Iran and Afghanistan to sign pact enabling sea trade

Deal would allow India and Afghanistan to conduct trade through port in Southern Iran.

India, Iran and Afghanistan to sign pact enabling sea trade

World Bulletin / News Desk

A pact that would connect India to war-torn Afghanistan through a port in southern Iran is set to be signed by the three countries, Afghan and Indians officials said on Thursday.

The draft pact on Chabahar Port, which would allow India and Afghanistan to conduct trade and access Central Asia's vast energy resources, has been reviewed and approved by Afghanistan and is now awaiting India's approval.

Shakib Mustaghni, spokesman for Afghanistan's Foreign Ministry, stressed the importance of opening a new transit opportunity for land-locked Afghanistan, without relying on access through Pakistan.

“It is very crucial for Afghanistan to reach the ports of Mumbai through Chabahar, and for India to reach Afghanistan and central Asia,” said Mustaghni.

A senior official from India's Foreign Ministry said: "We are in conversations with Iran and Afghanistan on a transit agreement. It is still a work in progress."

India considers the pact pivotal as analysts believe the sea route is the only viable alternative to land trade given the instability of Afghanistan and the reluctance of Pakistan to grant land-access to India, which has no direct land connection to Central Asia.

“India is keen with the construction of the Chabahar port, which will provide a new access point for India to Central Asia,” Anil Wadhwa, Secretary in India’s Foreign Ministry said recently during a lecture at the Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses. “The speedy completion of the Chabahar port could be just the game-changer India needs to transform its relations with the region.”

India, which is involved in a number of infrastructure developments projects in Afghanistan, does not have any “exit policy” even after the planned withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan.

India’s Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid said in an interview recently that India is considering increasing use Chabahar port in Iran to use it as direct access to western Afghanistan for “evacuation of mineral wealth”. 

Last Mod: 03 Nisan 2014, 17:05
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