Iran, Afghanistan and India to Sign Pact, Official Says

The tripartite agreement will give Kabul access to India via Chabahar Port in southern Iran.

Iranian Launch Boats in Konarak Berth, Chabahar Bay.
Iranian Launch Boats in Konarak Berth, Chabahar Bay. Wikicommons / Amirhossein Nikroo

Iran, Afghanistan and India are set to sign a pact that will open the way to Kabul gaining access to India via a port in southern Iran, a senior Afghan official has announced.

The Port of Chabahar is some 44 kilometers to the West of Gwadar port in Pakistan. According to the semi-official Fars news agency, the port is strategically and economically significant for New Delhi.

Afghan Foreign Ministry Spokesman Shakib Mostaghni told a weekly press conference that Kabul also wants to get access to the Black Sea via Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Georgia, Fars said.

A number of Indian officials have recently commented on the strategic importance of the port, according to Fars. 

In February, India's ambassador to Iran, Shri D.P. Srivstava, said that New Delhi was planning to establish a direct shipping route from the Iranian port to the subcontinent. He said that an Indian company was ready to set up the direct shipping link to bypass Dubai, where container ships from India currently have to cross on their way to Iran.

Meanwhile, in the Afghan city of Kandahar last month, Indian External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said that the port at Chabahar is the most economical route from India to Central Asia. He added that New Delhi is also interested in the port in order to ease the importation of minerals from Afghanistan.

"Through this (route) Afghanistan gets direct access to India via Pakistan. It will be of enormous help to Afghanistan," Fars cited the minister as saying.