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However, Iran has assured Pakistan that Chabahar is not being developed to rival Gwadar, which is itself now being developed under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

27 delegates from India, Afghanistan and other Asian countries attended the inaugural ceremony of the port. "The project is specifically important, as it connects the trade corridors passing through Iran to the ocean", he said. "This port is also significant from the political point of view given that it connects Iran with its eastern and northern neighbours and at a later stage to European states", Rouhani said.

The extension required an investment of $1 billion, including $235 million from India. However, India's intention to become a partner in the project was made clear as long ago as in 2003.

Adding more values to the port, the Chabahar port - which is located in Iran's southeastern Sistan-Baluchestan province - has two docks, an worldwide airport, and Iran's Navy and Air Force bases.

Rouhani inaugurated the expansion, carried out with an investment of $1bn including $235mn from India, which has more than tripled the port's capacity to 8.5 million tonnes a year, state television reported.

The overall development of the port is planned in four phases and is expected to bring its total annual cargo capacity to 82 million tonnes.

According to Rouhani, Iran is planning to link the port with the country's railroad system to facilitate the transit of goods to Europe through Russian Federation and to landlocked Asian countries.

Chabahar provides India with an easy land-sea linkup with Afghanistan. "It was also reiterated to organize a connectivity event involving all stakeholders at Chabahar at the earliest so as to increase awareness about the new opportunities offered by Chabahar port", it added.

India has prepared massive investment plans, which will include a network of roads and railways at a cost of Dollars 15 billion, as part of its strategic push in the area.

"Chabahar should also have road, rail and airport to be all set for imports and exports", he added.

"Reiterating the importance of Chabahar as a hub for regional economic connectivity and their commitment to work towards this objective, the Ministers commended the joint efforts of the three countries in the recent successful transit of wheat from India to Afghanistan through Chabahar", it said.

In late October, India shipped its first consignment of wheat to Afghanistan from the western Indian port of Kandla.

India had been looking after the development of the Chabahar port as the Iranian government was focusing on its second phase.

The document was signed at the presence of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

"We should go after positive competition", he said.


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