Afghanistan will be invited to the next meeting of India, Iran and Uzbekistan on joint use of strategically-located Chabahar port, the Ministry of External Affairs said on Thursday. The dates for the meeting, to be hosted by India, were being finalised, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said.
Located in the Sistan-Balochistan province on the energy-rich Iran’s southern coast, the Chabahar port is being increasingly seen as a fulcrum of connectivity to Central Asia. India, Iran and Uzbekistan held their first trilateral talks on December 14 to explore ways for joint use of the port for trade and enhancing regional connectivity.
“Afghanistan as a major stakeholder will be invited for this meeting," Srivastava said. The port is being developed by India, Iran and Afghanistan to boost trade ties among the three countries in the wake of Pakistan denying transit access to New Delhi. The port can be easily accessed from India’s western coast, bypassing Pakistan.
The trilateral meeting on December 14 took place in the backdrop of India pitching for participation of Uzbekistan in the International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC) project. The virtual meeting was held as a follow up of decisions taken during talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev of Uzbekistan on December 11 during which ways to speed up connectivity projects linking central Asia was a major focus.
The INSTC is a 7,200-km-long multi-mode transport project for moving freight among India, Iran, Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Russia, Central Asia and Europe. The trilateral meeting was jointly chaired by India’s Shipping Secretary Sanjeev Ranjan, Deputy Minister of Transport of Uzbekistan D Dehkanov and Deputy Transport Minister of Iran Shahram Adamnejad.