Iran President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday opened the first phase of the Shahid Beheshti Port in the southeastern city of Chabahar that bypasses Pakistan and opens up a new strategic transit route between Iran, India and Afghanistan.
Iran's Chabahar Port has a strategic importance in the region, as it facilitates the delivery of goods to European and Central Asian states.
A total of $1 billion is being invested in the first phase of the Chabahar development project, a joint global project billed as an "International Gateway" by Iranian officials who have invested $403 million (up until now) from the National Development Fund of Iran in the project and gained the approval of India to invest $85 million to complete the project.
Addressing the ceremony, Iranian Transport and Urban Development Minister Abbas Akhoundi said that once transportation infrastructures are complete in Chabahar, it will serve as the gateway to regional economies, IRNA reported.
Minister of state (shipping) Pon Radhakrishnan represented India at the inauguration of phase one of what is known as the Shahid Beheshti port at Chabahar.
The port located on the coast of the Gulf of Oman in Iran's southeastern Sistan-Baluchestan province has two docks.More news: Cyber Monday 'largest online sales day in history'
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According to the Indian Foreign Ministry's website, Chabahar Port was scheduled to be inaugurated by Rouhani on Sunday at presence of Ministers from India, Afghanistan and the region.
Analysts say the Chabahar port could challenge Pakistan's Gwadar port, some 80 kilometers from Chabahar, which is being developed with Chinese investment.
From 2.5 million tonnes, the annual cargo tonnage of Shahid Beheshti Port, Iran's only oceanic port, is now expected to nearly triple and reach 8.5 million tonnes. We should go after positive competition. India has been working with Afghanistan to create alternative, reliable access routes, bypassing Pakistan.
The statement said, "The completion of the internal procedures on the ratification process by Iran is expected to lead to full and early operationalisation of the Transit and Trade arrangement between the three countries though the Chabahar port..." India committed up to $500 million for the development of the Chahabar Port along with associated roads and rail lines.
Ahead of the inauguration, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and her Iranian counterpart Javed Zarif held a meeting on Saturday in Tehran and discussed about the Chabahar port project among other issues. Swaraj made a stopover at Tehran on her return from the Russian city of Sochi where she attended the annual summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).