India and Iran expedite the progress towards penning down a new deal on Chabahar Port

India and Iran are rapidly progressing towards penning down a long term contract that outlines New Delhi’s investments in the strategically located Chabahar Port.

Earlier this month, senior officials and diplomats from both sides held intense talks to resolve most of the nagging issues related to the development of the port that came up between India and Iran. A few remaining issues are expected to be ironed out in the coming weeks, when Indian officials visit Iran in the next few weeks.

As per source, things are moving in a speedy manner, as both the sides are working towards resolving issues that have stunted work on the project.

India amid changing geopolitical contours and Chinese advances, is keen to press the pedal on completion of the port located in southern Iran at the earliest. The port will also be linked to the International North South Corridor.

As per the Iranian media, Ali Akbar Safaei, chief of the Iranian Ports and Maritime Organization, said that talks on existing disputes regarding the development of the port were held between June 12 and 16.

Once all the issues are resolved, the long term deal aimed at developing the port will be signed.

The Chabahar port’s strategic location provides Mumbai a direct link to the landlocked Central Asian countries, and provides an advantage for developing it as a transshipment hub as it lies close to some of the busiest trade routes in the world.

The construction of the port got delayed on back of the several issues that had come up between the two countries.

“As part of the memorandum of understanding among Iran, India, and Afghanistan, so far, an initial investment worth $25 million has been committed to Iran and will be used to develop the port,” Safaei said.

In May, India’s National Security Advisor Ajit Doval visited Tehran and met Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, who underlined the need to take India-Iran ties to a “new level” especially with a focus on economic and commercial engagements.

Despite some initial hiccups, India and Iran are now rebooting their ties. In recent times, India even sent wheat to Afghanistan through the Chabahar Port. “This reflects the rebooting of ties between India and Iran,” an analyst said.

Meanwhile, last year, the Reserve Bank of India gave its nod for using the rupee payment mode for the sanctions hit Iran. India had halted imports from Iran in 2019 after the reimposition of sanctions by the US on the oil rich nation.

“We are looking at a long-term rupee trade not just with Russia but with Iran as well,” Sanjeev Sanyal, Member, Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister

In 2018-19, bilateral trade between New Delhi and Tehran stood at $17.03 billion. However, after a continuous fall- in

2021-22, it dropped to $1.9 billion, the two countries are now aggressively looking at boosting non oil trade.

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