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Iran launches commercial port in Oman Sea

Iran launches commercial port in Oman Sea

The first phase of Chabahar port was inaugurated on Sunday by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, opening up a new strategic transit route between Iran, India and Afghanistan, bypassing Pakistan.

The Chabahar port is important to India as it will bolster a trade route for land-locked Central Asian countries that would bypass rival Pakistan.

State TV said President Hassan Rohani attended the inauguration on December 3 along with dignitaries from India, Qatar, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and other countries.

Transport Minister Abbas Akhoundi said Chabahar on the Gulf of Oman will "soon become an important commercial hub for Iran".

According to the Indian Foreign Ministry's website, Chabahar Port was scheduled to be inaugurated by Rouhani on Sunday at presence of Ministers from India, Afghanistan and the region. India committed up to $500 million for the development of the Chahabar Port along with associated roads and rail lines.

The extension of Chabahar port, Iran's closest sea link to the Indian Ocean, more than tripled its capacity to 8.5 million tons of cargo annually, compared with the previous 2.5 million tons.

India, Afghanistan, and Iran a year ago made a decision to jointly establish a trade route for land-locked Central Asian countries.

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He further pointed to the opening of Shahid Beheshti Port of Chabahar in southeastern Iran, and said it reinforces Iran-India mutual and regional cooperation.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson during talks in New Delhi last month said America would not stand in the way of projects that help the Iranian people.

Chabahar provides India with an easier land-sea route to Afghanistan.

The three sides also commended the recent joint efforts that led to the transit of first tranche of 110,000 tons of wheat from India to Afghanistan through Chabahar Port.

The port will increase the capacity of loading and unloading of the ships as well as the employment rate in the province, also an official with the Sistan and Baluchestan Ports and Maritime Organization said on the sidelines of the ceremony.

Ahead of the inauguration of the port, Indian foreign minister Sushma Swaraj on Saturday met her Iranian counterpart Javed Zarif in Tehran during which the implementation of the Chabahar port project was discussed.