Iran has announced that India will begin in the next two weeks its operations at the Chabahar Port which will provide New Delhi a critical transport link to Afghanistan bypassing Pakistan.

The announcement came a day after the first trilateral meeting between representatives of India, Iran and Afghanistan on the Chabahar Port held in Tehran. TS Tirumurti, Secretary (Economic Relations) in the Ministry of External Affairs, Mohammad Rastad, the head of Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organisation (PMO) and Imam Mohammad Warymoch, Afghanistan’s Deputy Minister of Transport, led their respective delegations at the meeting.

Addressing the media, the Iranian representative announced that Indian Ports Global Limited (PGL) has made some investment for installation of equipment in the port and would start the task of equipping and operating in Chabahar in next two weeks.

Addressing Tuesday’s meeting, Tirumurti said Chabahar would become the transit hub of the region. India, he said, was eagerly waiting for the inauguration of Chabahar-Zahedan and Khaf-Herat railway projects.

The Indian official announced his country’s full commitment to the Chabahar agreement. A statement issued by the External Affairs Ministry in New Delhi said the first trilateral meeting between India, Afghanistan and Iran of the coordination council of the Chabahar Agreement took place in Tehran.

Detailed discussions were held between the three sides on full operationalisation of the Trilateral Agreement for international transit and transport through Chabahar Port. All sides shared the view that the full operationalisation of trilateral Chabahar initiative will promote connectivity and economic development of Afghanistan and the region.

It was decided to constitute a follow-up committee that would hold its first meeting within two months in Chabahar Port to discuss and aim to finalise protocol to harmonise transit, roads, customs, consular matters that was shared by the Indian side at the meeting for making the route attractive, decrease logistic costs and pave the way for smooth implementation of the trilateral Chabahar agreement.

India is hopeful that the Chabahar Port will be kept off the sanctions that the US proposes to impose on Iran over the nuclear issue on 4 November. New Delhi has already argued with top US officials that the Chabahar Port was primarily aimed at assisting the people of Afghanistan and should not attract sanctions.