modi in varanasiIn a bid to circumvent Pakistan and open a route to landlocked Afghanistan, India will sign a contract to develop Phase-1 of Iran’s Chabahar port during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the Islamic nation beginning on May 22.

Modi’s first visit to the Shite nation will also feature discussions on terrorism and extremism in the region as well as on India’s desire to secure energy assets for a fast growing economy.

Also, discussions would feature the mode of clearing the USD 6.4 billion Indian refiners like Essar Oil and MRPL owe to Iran in past oil dues.

During the two-day visit, he will call on Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, hold bilateral talks with President Hassan Rouhani and witness signing of two agreements, said Gopal Baglay, Joint Secretary (Pakistan- Afghanistan-India) in the Ministry of External Affairs.

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“The visit of Prime Minister to Iran will focus mainly on connectivity and infrastructure, energy partnership with Iran, boosting bilateral trade, promoting regular consultation on peace and stability particuarly in our region and extended neighbourhood and encouraging people-to-people contacts and relations between the two countries,” he told reporters here.

Indian Ports Global Pvt Ltd – a joint venture between Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust and Kandla Port Trust, will sign a contract with Arya Bandar Company of Iran for developing two terminals and five multi-cargo berth in Phase-1 of the Chabahar port project.

Chabahar in southeast Iran will help circumvent Pakistan and open up a route to landlocked Afghanistan where New Delhi has developed close security ties and economic interests.

From Chabahar port, the existing Iranian road network can link up to Zaranj in Afghanistan, about 883 km from the port.

The Zaranj-Delaram road constructed by India in 2009 can give access to Afghanistan’s garland highway, thereby establishing road access to four major cities – Afghanistan Herat, Kandahar, Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif.

He said the Indian investment in Phase-1 will be in excess of USD 200 million including USD 150 million line of credit from Exim Bank, an agreement for which would be signed too during the visit.

Besides signing of commercial contract for Chabahar Phase-1, Modi will witness signing of a trilateral agreement on transport and transit corridor among India, Afghanisatan and Iran.

On securing rights to develop the offshore Farzad-B gas field, which was discovered by ONGC Videsh Ltd, he said discussions have moved towards commercial conclusion and financial closure.