Monday, April 19, 2021

Chabahar Port: India Gaining Foothold In Central Asia As Iran’s Chabahar Port Attracts New Foreign Partners

Chabahar port is back in the news as India, Uzbekistan, and Iran are set to conduct the first trilateral working group meeting on the joint use of the Iranian port – Chabahar. 

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The trilateral meeting is scheduled for December 14, 2020. The meeting would be jointly chaired by Deputy Minister-level functionaries from the Republic of Uzbekistan and the Islamic Republic of Iran, and a Secretary-Level official from India.

“This would open up economic opportunities for the traders and business community of the region. Besides Uzbekistan, other Central Asian countries have also shown interest in using the port. India seeks to cooperate closely with regional countries on this issue,” said India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in a press release.

Earlier, India and Uzbekistan held their first bilateral ‘Virtual Summit’ on December 11, 2020. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev took part in it.

Nine Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) were signed between the two countries to ramp up cooperation in areas including efforts to fight the pandemic, cooperation in renewable energy, information technology, community development projects, and cybersecurity.

The Indian side confirmed the approval of $448 million of Line of Credit to be extended by India for four developmental projects in Uzbekistan in the fields of road construction, sewerage treatment, and information technology. 

Iran-India Chabahar Port Deal

The leaders discussed the situation in Afghanistan and noted that the establishment of peace and stability in that country is of great importance to the security and stability in the entire region. They called for the settlement of the Afghan conflict on the principle of Afghan-led, Afghan-owned, and Afghan-controlled peace process.

“We also have a similar approach to regional security issues. We agree that the restoration of peace in Afghanistan requires a process that itself is led, owned and controlled by Afghanistan. It is also necessary to preserve the achievements of the last two decades,” PM Modi said.

Significance Of Chabahar Port For India

India welcomes the interest of Uzbekistan to use the Chabahar port as a transit port as this would open up economic opportunities for the traders and business community of the region, the MEA said.

Besides Uzbekistan, other Central Asian countries have also shown interest in using the port. India seeks to cooperate closely with regional countries on this issue.

The trade route between India and Uzbekistan can prove to be advantageous to India in establishing a foothold in Afganistan. Uzbekistan has built a railway link to Afghanistan to connect to the Iranian railway network eyeing the use of Chabahar Port as an entry into the Indian Ocean region, The Economic Times reported.

Interestingly, the Chabahar Port is close to Pakistan’s Gwadar Port, which is being developed by China as part of its China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which links it to the Indian Ocean through the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Iran is India’s gateway to not only Afghanistan and Central Asia via Chabahar Port but also Eurasia and Russia via the International North-South Transportation Corridor (INSTC). 

As reported earlier by EurAsian Times, Iran’s relations with Beijing have significantly improved in recent years, with the two planning on signing a proposed mega-deal on economic and security partnership, worth a staggering $400 billion, which has garnered massive attention from India as well as the rest of the world.

Spread over a period of 25 years, the proposed plan will allow President Xi Jinping to tap into Iran’s oil and gas resources in exchange for cooperation in the field of information technology, agriculture industry, tourism, and telecom, thereby providing China immense power to fiddle into Iran’s affairs, which could be used to create a distance between India and Tehran.

Although China’s billion-dollar deal is a breather for Iran’s economy, which is hard hit by US President Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign against the Islamic nation.

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