Iran to handover Chabahar port operations to India within a month, Iran Minister quells uncertainty

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According to an interim pact, India will overtake operations of the Chabahar port from Iran within a month, Iranian Minister of Roads and Urban Development Abbas Akhoundi said on Thursday, PTI reported. Currently, the minister is in India on invitation from its government to take part in in the Mobility Summit by Niti Aaayog.

“Now, we are ready just 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,” Akhoundi said.

The port is easily accessible from India’s western coast and is in the Sistan-Balochistan province. It is considered as a counter to Pakistan’s Gwadar Port located at distance of around 80 kms from Chabahar.

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

He added that Iran’s Central Bank has approved the introduction of a banking channel by India. “Indian side had investment in Chabahar port and we are moving towards utilisation of the Chabahar port,” Akhoundi said.

He said that the handing over of the port should be done “during one month. We have done everything”.

Earlier, the U.S State Department on Thursday said that U.S and India are in ‘very detailed conversations’ after Washington requested it to stop its’s oil imports from Iran, Reuters reported. This year, President Donald Trump imposed economic sanctions on Iran after withdrawing from a 2015 nuclear deal.

Since the sanctions, Trump has been trying to get other countries to isolate the Islamic Republic, but is so far failing as government officials in India have expressed their want to continue trade ties in oil. To keep them afloat, Iran has extended credit terms and almost free shipping.

An Indian official told Reuters that, “India would not stop Iranian imports but would finalise its strategy on crude buys after this week’s two plus two meeting.”

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