Days after ‘2 Plus 2 Dialogue’ discussed about the strategic importance of Chabahar port, in a major development India, Iran and Afghanistan on Tuesday held their first Tripartite meeting in Kabul and discussed matters concerning the port and also counter-terror cooperation.
“The meeting focused on consolidating economic cooperation, including Chabahar, as well as enhancing cooperation on counter-terrorism, counter-narcotics, and continuing support to the peace and reconciliation process that is led and owned by Afghanistan,” a joint statement said.
The Chabahar port can help India bypass Pakistan in transporting goods to Afghanistan.
The statement also said that this was the first tripartite meeting among the three key players in the region and was held “at the Deputy Foreign Minister level”.
The meeting was chaired by Afghan Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Hekmat Khalil Karzai and was attended by Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale. The Ira and Deputy Foreign Minister H E Dr Abbas Araghchi.
On September 6, at the inaugural 2 Plus 2 Indo-US Dialogue, New Delhi had apprised and sensitised in details the American delegation comprising among others, the US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and US Secretary Defence James Mattis on the strategic importance of Chabahar.
Indian side comprising External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman also had spoken about the significance of enhanced trade for the war-hit nation Afghanistan.
The three sides also agreed that India will host the next round of consultation meet at an appropriate time in India in 2019.
The deliberations on Chabahar by India, Afghanistan and also Iran are considered significant in their own right as the US has only threatened to slap sanctions on Iran.
The Chabahar port in the Sistan-Balochistan province on Iran’s southern coast is easily accessible from India’s western coast.
In some quarters the Chabahar has emerged also as a talking point as it could impact trading in Pakistan’s Gwadar Port.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had inaugurated the first phase of the Chabahar port in December 2017.
During his recent visit to India for the Mobility Summit organised by the NITI Aayog, Iranian Minister of Roads and Urban Development Abbas Akhound has said that Iran will handover the strategic Chabahar port to Indian company within a month.
Original idea of Chabahar port was mooted 15 years back in 2003.