China launches of Chabahar port, hopes for regional peace, stability

Chabahar port

Located in the southern province of Sistan, the launch of Phase I Shahaid Beheshti FTZ Port was attended by at least 60 representatives from 17 countries including India and Afghanistan, Iran's Islamic Republic News Agency reported.

The ministers at the inauguration also commended the shipment of the first cargo through Chabahar, from India to Afghanistan, which comprised 110,000 tons of wheat.

"We should go after positive competition".

Giving a boost to the bilateral ties between India and Iran, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has made an unannounced visit to Tehran, while returning from Sochi in Russian Federation, ahead of the inauguration of the strategically important port.

Iran has launched one of its major post-nuclear deal projects - the port of Chabahar - pushing further for engagement with the global community, days before the US Congress' expected decision on whether Washington will pull out of the landmark worldwide accord.

India, Afghanistan, and Iran a year ago chose to jointly establish a trade route for land-locked Central Asian countries. Chabahar provides India an easier land-sea route to Afghanistan.

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India has committed to the $500 million to the Chabahar port.

Asked how China views the launch of the project, considering that China is investing heavily in Gwadar as part of the Dollars 50 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang declined to comment on it directly. Islamabad, however, sees in this an attempt by India to use Afghanistan to destabilise Pakistan.

In fact, the feeling in Afghanistan is that they would no longer need to depend on Pakistan for transit trade. Akbar was speaking at the 7th Meeting of Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan (RECCA), which was formed to promote peace in Afghanistan.

The first part of India's construction is scheduled to be finished in 2018. But those hopes were belied when Pakistan refused to allow Afghan trucks to come up to the Indian border at Attari, Punjab, or take back Indian goods. Chabahar also has an worldwide airport and Iran's Navy and Air Force have bases in the city, adding to the ports value.

First of all, the new port will allow India to counter the blockade created by Pakistan.

At a press conference last week, the head of Sistan-Baluchestan's Ports and Maritime Bureau said costs for each 20-foot container were $1,000 lower if transported through Chabahar to Afghanistan compared with the Pakistan route. Iranian Parliament or Majlis recently ratified the trilateral trade agreement signed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, President Rouhani and Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani in May 2016.

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