News ID: 230971
Published: 0230 GMT September 07, 2018

Iran to hand over Chabahar to Indian company for operation in a month: Akhoundi

Iran to hand over Chabahar to Indian company for operation in a month: Akhoundi

Iran will hand over the strategic Chabahar Port to Indian company within a month for operation as per an interim pact, said Iran's minister of roads and urban development.

Abbas Akhoundi told PTI on Thursday, "Now, we are ready to handover the port (Chabahar) to the Indian company just to operate this in interim agreement that already we had with Indian part for one and a half year."

Chabahar Port in the Sistan-Baluchestan Province in the energy-rich nation's southern coast is easily accessible from India's western coast.

Akhoundi said after a meeting with his Indian counterpart Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari: "We have already moved one step forward…We should introduce a banking channel to India, which we already did and fortunately has been formally accepted by the Indian side."

He said India has also introduced a banking channel, which has been approved by Central Bank of Iran.

"The Indian side had investment in Chabahar Port and we are moving towards utilization of the port," Akhoundi said, adding that the handing over of the port should be done "within one month. We have done everything".

The first phase of the Chabahar Port was inaugurated in December 2017 by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, opening a new strategic route connecting Iran, India and Afghanistan.

The port is being considered as a gateway to golden opportunities for trade by India, Iran and Afghanistan with central Asian countries.

"The routes of the region should be connected on land, sea and air," Rouhani had said at the inauguration ceremony.

Based on the agreement signed between India and Iran earlier, India is to equip and operate two berths in Chabahar Port Phase 1 with capital investment of $85.21 million and annual revenue expenditure of $22.95 million on a 10-year lease.

On US sanctions impacting oil trade, the minister hoped to find a way out to continue selling crude oil to India.

"Of course, it will impact trade between the two countries," Akhoundi said, adding the sanctions would not halt oil sale to India.

Iran is India's third-biggest supplier of crude oil but US sanctions will from November 3 block payment gateways.

"There has been some impact… I will just not say something that is not realistic …Certainly US has made the trade between the two sides uneasy but I would like to emphasize that this is not something that US can halt and stop this relationship between two sides," Akhoundi added.

He said Iran welcomes Indian firms developing the giant Farzad-B gas field.

"Indian side is very keen to invest and we are still to receive the project proposal," he said.

On his meeting with Gadkari, the Iranian minister said: "We reviewed the formal statement which was released by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during President Rouhani's visit to India. That statement is very very strong which shows that … we have very deep relationship."

He said the thing that was emphasized in the meeting was that India is very committed to all the agreements that India has signed.

   
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