India and Iran signed the much anticipated bilateral pact for development of Chabahar port and a related deal involving Afghanistan for the establishment of a trilateral trade and transit corridor. Prime Minister Narendra Modi invoked centuries-old “dosti“ (friendship) between Tehran and Delhi after the signing the landmark agreement in Iran's capital, and said the trilateral corridor could “alter the course of the history of the region“.
Located barely 120 km west of the Chinese owned Gwadar port in Pakistan's Balochistan province, Chabahar will rid India of its dependence on Pakistan for access to Afghanistan and energy-rich central Asia where Beijing's influence continues to grow by leaps and bounds.
At a Chabahar connectivity event--where the trilateral pact was inked in the presence of Modi, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani-the PM quoted Persian poet Hafez to say, “Days of separation are over; night of wait is coming to an end; our friendship will stay forever“. Today , we are all witnessing creation of history not just for the people of our three countries, but for the entire region. To build bonds of connectivity is the most basic of human urges,“ said Modi.
India has committed $500 million for the Chabahar port project which was conceptualised as early as 2003 but hardly saw any progress because of the international sanctions imposed on Iran.
Apart from the agreement for Chabahar, India and Iran signed 11 other agreements following the meeting between Modi and Rouhani.
Modi described the agreement for the trilateral corridor as a new foundation of convergence between the three nations as it would spur unhindered flow of commerce throughout the region. The key arteries of the corridor would pass through the Chabahar port.
Rouhani said it can serve as a point of connectivity among “India and Afghanistan and countries in the Central Asia and CIS countries and also those in the East of Europe“.