While the US is pressuring India to reduce its trade and commercial links with Iran, Tehran said it would hand over the Chabahar Port to India for operation and maintenance within a month.

The port provides India a crucial transport link to Afghanistan and Central Asia, bypassing Pakistan.

Iranian Minister of Roads and Urban Development Abbas Akhoundi, in New Delhi for the Global Mobility Summit, said a contract for handing over the port to India had already been signed and things were moving forward at a good pace.

“We think the Chabahar Port will be handed over to the Indian authorities within one month. It is already operating and will be handed over for management and operational purposes,” he said.

His remarks came amid reports that the US would like India to bring its oil imports from Iran to zero and also reconsider developing the Chabahar Port in view of the sanctions against the Islamic nation over its nuclear programme.

India is hopeful that the Chabahar Port would be kept out of the sanctions regime by Washington as its development was primarily aimed at providing humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan.

Asked about the position Washington had taken on India’s ties with Iran, Akhoundi said the US was an outsider in the region while the India and Iran enjoyed historic and civilisational ties.

“India-Iran relationship is essential for the region and we are looking at ways to work together. The US is an outsider in the region, so the insiders should come together and continue their friendship,” he said.

The Iranian Minister, who held meeting with Indian ministers, said he had been assured by India of its commitment to all the agreements it had signed with Iran. He said he had discussed with Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari the progress in the implementation of a railway project connecting Chabahar Port with Zahedan in Iran that India is undertaking.