Notwithstanding US objections, India on Wednesday went ahead with the signing of an agreement with Iran for the development of the strategically important Chabahar port which will give India sea-land access route to Afghanistan bypassing Pakistan.
The pact was signed after comprehensive talks between visiting Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari with the Iranian leadership in Tehran. "The MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) was signed after the talks between the two sides," a source said.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, in his meeting with Gadkari, said, "Resumption of Iran-India cooperation in the southeastern Iranian port city of Chabahar would lead to a new chapter in relations of two countries."
Chabahar port is located in Sistan-Balochistan Province on Iran's southeastern coast and is of great strategic utility for India which will get sea-land access route to Afghanistan bypassing Pakistan. The US has been asking India and other countries not to "rush" into doing business with Iran as Washington was yet to work out a deal with Tehran on the latter's contentious nuclear programme.
The port will be used to ship crude oil and urea, saving India transportation costs. India intends to lease two berths at Chabahar for 10 years. The port will be developed through a special purpose vehicle (SPV) which will invest USD 85.21 million to convert the berths into a container terminal and a multi-purpose cargo terminal.