Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi are going to visit Tehran to sign a trilateral memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Iran on the development of the south-eastern Iranian port city of Chabahar.
Modi is due in Tehran on May 22-23. The Iranian Embassy in Kabul said the exact date of Ghani’s trip was yet to be determined but he will be in Tehran concurrent with Modi for inking the MoU on the Chabahar Port.
The Afghan and Indian officials are scheduled to take part in a ceremony aimed at breaking the ground for the development of the strategic port of Chabahar.
This will be Ghani’s second official visit to Iran since taking office in September 2014. He first visited Iran last April to discuss Tehran-Kabul cooperation on a wide range of issues.
Modi will be visiting Iran for the first time.
In 2003, Iran and India agreed to develop the Port of Chabahar which sits on the Gulf of Oman.
The project was, however, suspended following the imposition of sanctions against Iran over Tehran’s nuclear program.
In May 2014, India and Iran signed an MoU to jointly develop the port once the international sanctions against Iran were lifted. Sanctions against Iran were lifted after Iran and its negotiating partners started implementing the Iranian nuclear agreement on January 16.
The Chabahar route will allow Indian goods to reach Afghanistan via the Iranian port of Chabahar without crossing Pakistan’s territory.
Chabahar is located in the Gulf of Oman on the border with Pakistan. It is the closest and best access point of Iran to the Indian Ocean and Iran has devised serious plans to turn it into a transit hub for immediate access to markets in the northern part of the Indian Ocean and Central Asia.