First trilateral meeting between India, Afghanistan and Iran on Chabahar

  • Category
    World Affairs
  • Published
    29th Oct, 2018


  • Recently, India, Afghanistan and Iran held their first trilateral meeting on Chabahar port project during which they reviewed its implementation.
  • It was in 2003 that India first proposed developing the Chabahar port seen as a gateway for the country to access the landlocked markets of Afghanistan and Central Asia given New Delhi’s tense ties with Pakistan have blocked overland trade through Pakistan.
  • Iran’s Chabahar port is located on the Gulf of Oman and is the only oceanic port of the country. The port also gives access to the energy-rich Persian Gulf nations’ southern coast.


  • At the meeting, nations decided to constitute a follow-up committee that would hold its first meeting within two months in Chabahar Port. The committee would aim to finalise protocol to harmonise transit, roads, customs and consular matters for making the route attractive and decrease logistic costs.
  • In May 2016, India, Iran and Afghanistan had signed a pact which entailed establishment of a transit and transport corridor among the three countries using Chabahar Port as one of the regional hubs.
  • With the US bringing Iran under the sanctions regime, New Delhi has conveyed Washington the importance of the Chabahar projectas a major link for trade with war-ravaged Afghanistan.

Chabahar Port:

  • The Chabahar Port is located in the Sistan-Baluchistan Province on Iran's southern coast.About a fifth of the oil consumed worldwide each day passes through the Strait, a shipping choke point that separates the Persian Gulf from the Gulf of Oman and Indian Ocean.
  • Iran plans to turn the Chabahar port into a transit hub for immediate access to markets in the northern part of the Indian Ocean and in Central Asia.
  • It is being considered as a gateway of golden opportunities for trade by India, Iran and Afghanistan with Central Asian countries.
  • The port gains importance in the backdrop of Pakistan denying transit access to India. India can now bypass Pakistan in transporting goods to Afghanistan.
  • Chabahar port will boost India’s access to Iran, the key gateway to the International North-South Transport Corridor that has sea, rail and road routes between India, Russia, Iran, Europe and Central Asia.
  • From Chabahar, the existing Iranian road network can link up to Zaranj in Afghanistan, about 883 kms from the port. The Zaranj-Delaram road constructed by India in 2009 can give access to Afghanistan's Garland Highway, setting up road access to four major cities in Afghanistan -- Herat, Kandahar, Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif.
  • The port project will be the first overseas venture for an Indian state-owned port.


  • The meeting assumes significance as the strategically-located port on the energy-rich Iran's southern coast was coming under the ambit of US sanctions on Tehran. India is one of a handful of countries that continued trade links with Iran despite it being isolated by Western countries against its disputed nuclear programme. New Delhi is Tehran's second-biggest oil client after Beijing.
  • With Chabahar port becoming functional, there will be a significant boost in the import of iron ore, sugar and rice to India. The import cost of oil to India will also see a considerable decline. India has already increased its crude purchase from Iran since the West imposed ban on Iran was lifted.
  • From a diplomatic perspective, Chabahar port could be used as a point from where humanitarian operations could be coordinated.
  • Chabahar port will be beneficial to India in countering Chinese presence in the Arabian Sea which China is trying to ensure by helping Pakistan develop the Gwadar port. Gwadar port is less than 400 km from Chabahar by road and 100 km by sea.

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