India may commit to develop Iranian port
5/4/2013 10:18:46 AM
India is also likely to announce a project to build a fertiliser plant near the strategically important port in south-east Iran. The two countries are also expected to sign about half-a-dozen memoranda of understanding to boost trade and economic ties.
India’s proposed commitments to infrastructure projects in and around the Chabahar Port in Iran were discussed by the Union Cabinet in a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday. sources said that the government’s decision might be formally announced after Khurshid’s meeting with Iran’s Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi in Tehran later this week.
Khurshid and Salehi will co-chair the meeting of the India-Iran Joint Commission, a bilateral mechanism to discuss trade and economic issues.
They will also discuss India’s energy ties with Iran. New Delhi secured a waiver from Washington to continue buying crude oil from Iran without exposing Indian companies to tough U.S. sanctions. But India’s crude imports from Iran declined by more than 26.5 percent in the 2012-13 financial year, particularly due to problems with payment mechanism and lack of insurance cover for the tankers – all consequences of the U.S. and EU sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
New Delhi and Tehran are also likely to discuss about the Iran-Pakistan-India oil pipeline project. India has been cagey about joining the project citing concerns over security and pricing issues, as the pipeline will run through several trouble-zones in Pakistan.
India’s move to be involved with building infrastructure around Chabahar Port in Iran comes close on the heels of China’s Overseas Port Holding Company’s recent acquisition of management of the commercial port in Gwadar on the southwestern coast of Pakistan. Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy has since long been using the Gwadar Port, which New Delhi perceives as yet another strategic asset China is acquiring to encircle India.
Iran has since long been asking India to join the project, which include building a container terminal at Chabahar Free Port on the coast and Chabahar-Faraz-Bam railway project to get access to Afghanistan and Central Asian countries.
India too is interested in developing the Chabahar Port in response to Pakistan’s decision to hand over the control of Gwadar Port to a state-owned company of China.
New Delhi, however, has so far been cagey about getting involved in such a huge project in Iran, keeping in view the continuing tough U.S. and EU sanctions on the Islamic Republic.