A major economic summit will likely be held in India within the next two months to attract investment from across the globe for the strategic Chabahar port in Iran which would give India access to Afghanistan bypassing Pakistan, said the Afghan Ambassador to New Delhi.
Referring to the meeting between Shipping, Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari, Iranian Minister of Roads and Urban Development Abbas Akhoundi and Afghanistan’s Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation Mohamadullah Batash on Wednesday, Afghan Ambassador to India Shaida Abdali said its purpose was to expedite the implementation of the Chabahar transit and trade agreement and there were some “very good decisions” taken within that framework.
“We are going to address some of the technical issues involved in the Chabahar agreement and within the next two months we will -- in India or Iran, but more likely India -- call a major economic summit where all the industries will participate from India, Afghanistan, Iran and from beyond,” the Abdali told reporters here at The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of South Asia.
Abdali said the ministers met in order to deal with the technical issues that are still left to be addressed and the decision was made that India, Afghanistan and Iran will have a secretariat each to deal with those.
“Within a month, the three secretariats will meet again and we will have a technical team sitting again before the major summit that we have. All issues pending will be resolved. Procedures for others to invest will be made clear.
We will be fully ready for foreign investers...to start business,” he said.
While talking about the ambitious project, said, “Our purpose is not to concentrate on the three countries’ business and economic relations but to involve and engage all other neighbours, especially the neighbours in Central Asia and South Asia.”
“We would like to give this a much more expansion beyond these countries. We need more investments for the Chabahar port and we need international investments.
We hope that the major summit that will be called in Delhi will have participation from many countries in the region and around the world to attract more investment to the Chabahar port,” Abdali said.
... may consider Iran’s idea to develop airport at Chabahar
India may examine a proposal from Iran to develop airport at its strategic Chabahar port as part of comprehensive infrastructure development that includes rail-road connectivity to the port.
The Chabahar port in the Sistan-Balochistan province on the energy-rich nation’s southern coast lies outside the Persian Gulf and is easily accessed from India’s western coast bypassing Pakistan.
“There is already an operational airport at Chabahar. The Iranian delegation to India has asked us whether India would be willing to develop and modernise it during the review on the latest development and situation on the bilateral pact...on the Chabahar port,” an official said.
Apart from discussions on expanding scope of cooperation to cover development of the entire Chabahar port, it was discussed that air transport could be of much significance, the official disclosed.
The high-level Iranian delegation led by Minister of Roads and Urban Development Dr Abbas Akhoundi and comprising Ambassador Gholamreza Ansari and Deputy Minister and MD for PMO Mohammad Saeid Nejad, among others, held a meeting with Indian authorities led by Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari here.
The official said Chabaharhas an operational airport and the Iranian minister enquired whether India would be willing to modernise it.