India and Iran have expressed commitment for early completion and operationalisation of Chabahar Port besides strengthening bilateral ties. Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari was on a two-day visit to Tehran on August 5 and 6 to represent India at the inauguration and oath taking ceremony of Hassan Rouhanias the President of Iran for a second term where he also held discussions with Iranian officials on wide ranging issues including Chabahar Port and proposed rail link between Chabahar and Zahedan. "In the meetings, both sides positively assessed the progress in implementation of the decisions taken during the Indian Prime Minister's visit to Iran last year, including the progress of Chabahar Port. Both sides reiterated their commitment to complete and operationalize the port at the earliest," Ministry of Shipping said in a statement today. Besides meeting Rouhani, Gadkari alsocalled on the first Vice President E Jahangiri and highlighted the issue of activation of contract of Chabahar Port development and conveyed to him that India Ports Global Limited (IPGL) has finalised procurement of critical equipment such as Rail Mounted Gantry Crane and is close to finalising orders relating to Rubber Tyre Mobile Crane, MT Container Handlers, Truck and Tractor Trailers Containers and related equipment. The statement also said he has conveyed India's readiness to aid Iran in taking up operations in Chabahar Port during the interim period between the actual activation of contract. He requested the Iranian side for an early submission of loan application for Chabahar Port Development to Exim Bank of India so that the contract agreement between the two countries can be activated. The Iranian side earlier had requested India to provide up to 150 million dollar credit and had made it a condition for activation of the Chabahar Port contract. The application for loan to Exim Bank of India is still awaited. "Later, Gadkari met Abbas Akhoundi, the Iranian Minister for Roads and Urban Development, and conveyed to him the latest update on procurement of equipment for the two terminals - multipurpose and container - that are covered under Chabahar Port Agreement," the statement said. He also requested Akhoundi that in the interest of supporting operations of Chabahar Port, the Iranian side should consider waiving the condition of submission of loan application as it was taking time.
The Iranian side assured that the application shall be presented to Exim Bank of India early. The Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Act (FIPPA) application was also presented by the MD, IPGL to the Iranian authorities in the presence of Gadkari and Akhoundi. India has opened an office of IPGL in Tehran. The statement said in his meeting with Akhoundi, Gadkari stressed upon the need for marketing of the Chabahar Port to attract cargo. "He said, Iran and India should jointly organise a workshop at Chabahar for this purpose at an early date. Gadkari also emphasized the need to develop rail connectivity from Chabahar to Zahedan, and said that the MoU with India in this regard may be extended," it said. The issue of ratification of the trilateral Transit Agreement between India, Iran and Afghanistan was also discussed. While India and Afghanistan have signed the agreement, Iran is yet to do the same.
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