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India, Iran To Accelerate Chabahar Port Project, Indian Foreign Minister Says

Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar met with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif for a meeting of the 19th India-Iran joint commission, including talks on the Chabahar port. Tehran. Iran. Dec 22nd 2019.

Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar currently on a visit to Iran says an agreement to accelerate the Chabahar port project was reached with the Iranian side.

He add that within two hours during a meeting of the 19th India-Iran Joint Commission co-chaired by his Iranian counterpart Mohammad-Javad Zarif the agreement was concluded.

In a tweet, the Indian Minister of External Affairs said the two ministers reviewed "the entire gamut" of the cooperation of the two countries and "agreed on accelerating the Chabahr project". Iran's Foreign Minister also tweeted: "Excellent discussions on closer bilateral relations & regional & global issues affecting our respective countries."

The Indian foreign minister visited Tehran shortly after a visit to Washington earlier this month. According to The Times of India Washington has provided a rare exemption from sanctions on the Chabahar port in Iran as Washington said it recognized that the strategic project was a lifeline for war-torn Afghanistan to get humanitarian supplies from India.

The Iranian port has been exempted from U.S. economic sanctions due to its pivotal role in breaking landlocked Afghanistan's dependence on Pakistan for trade with the world, especially India. Chabahar provides a route for India to access Afghanistan and the Central Asian countries without going through Pakistan.

Chabahar, one of Iran's officially designated free trade zones, is located on the Indian Ocean and is Iran's largest port outside the Persian Gulf. It is also the only Iranian port with such exemptions. Gwadar in Pakistan's Balochistan is about 170 kilometeres (110 miles) to the east of Chabahar.

Indian goods headed for Afghanistan and Central Asia enjoy preferential treatment and tariff reductions at Chabahar according to an agreement between Iran, India and Afghanistan.

In 2015 Iran gave India the right to develop two berths of the Chabahar port and operate them for 10 years by India Ports Global in partnership with Iran's Aria Banader.

The Spokesman of the Foreign Ministry of Afghanistan in May said that in meetings with the U.S. Department of State officials he was informed of "the continued waiver with respect to the Chabahar Port vis-à-vis U.S. sanctions on Iran."