India and Iran assessed progress in implementation of joint projects, including development of the Chabahar Port, as Road Transport, Highway and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari visited Iran. The minister was in Iran on a two-day visit from Saturday, to attend the inauguration of the Hassan Rouhani in his second tenure as Iran’s President. An official statement said Gadkari interacted with President Rouhani, called on the First Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri and held detailed exchange of views with Minister of Roads and Urban Development Abbas Akhoundi. Both sides, in a series of meetings, reviewed and assessed the progress in implementation of the decisions taken during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Iran last year, including the progress in the development of Chabahar Port, a statement said.
“Both sides reiterated their commitment to complete and operationalise the Port at the earliest that would contribute to bilateral and regional trade and economic development and also provide alternate access to landlocked Afghanistan to regional and global markets,” the statement said. Gadkari also handed over to Rouhani as letter from Modi felicitating him and inviting him to visit India. Chabahar port is located in the southeastern Sistan-Balochistan province, on the Gulf of Oman. In May 2016, India and Iran signed a bilateral agreement in which India would refurbish one of the berths at Shahid Beheshti port, and reconstruct a 600 meter long container handling facility at the port. The port, intended to provide an alternative for trade between India and Afghanistan, is 800 km closer to Afghanistan than Pakistan’s Karachi.