Sep 12, 2017 11:55 UTC
  • A view from a street in Chabahar in southeast Iran
    A view from a street in Chabahar in southeast Iran

Afghanistan has urged India to speed up development of Iran’s strategic port of Chabahar which is on a course to open a transport corridor to landlocked Central Asian nations.

Foreign Minister of Afghanistan Salahuddin Rabbani met Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in New Delhi Monday and the two sides exchanged a number of agreements.

Afghans see the route central to their hope of streamlining trade with India and boosting access to markets in India, Europe, the Middle East, and the world beyond.

The port would also allow India to transport goods to Afghanistan by sea and provide access to Central Asia.

On Monday, Swaraj told Rabbani that India would step up the development work and begin supplying wheat to Afghanistan within weeks through Chabahar.

India is said to have committed up to $500 million for development of Chabahar along with associated roads and rail lines but an Iranian developer said Monday the Indian investment is only $85 million.

Managing Director of Aria Banader Iranian Co. Yaser Ebrahimi said his company has undertaken to supply land and sea equipment for the port under a build-operate-transfer (BOT) agreement worth $403 million.   

“Indians are expected to invest only $85 million in Chabahar, and this is not a big figure compared to $403 million of investment being made by Aria Banader.”

However, the state-owned Indian company India Ports Global Limited (IPGL), which is developing Chabahar, will provide $150 million in finance to the Ports and Maritime Organization of Iran for purchases, Ebrahimi said.

Speaking to reporters in Chabahar Monday, the official outlined some of the equipment supply deals which his company has signed with the firms dominating the market for customized equipment to develop jetties and container terminals.