Sunday, 26 August 2012

Iranian, Indian, Afghan Officials to Attend Trilateral Meeting in Tehran Today

Senior officials from Iran, India and Afghanistan are due to attend a trilateral meeting in Tehran on Sunday to discuss regional security and economy as well as transit of goods and passengers via Iran's Chabahar Port.

The three nations are expected to study a report by the Indian Ports Association (IPA) on possible commercial activities through Chabahar port. "It (report) has a number of different possibilities and we are studying it ... The idea is to take forward what we need to do with Chabahar. What is in our common interest ..." Indian Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai said.

Iran wants to increase the capacity of the port from 3 million tons to 6 million tons in the first phase, and pushing it up to 10 million tons in the second phase, starting 2013. The trilateral meeting will also decide when and how to build railway infrastructure to move freight up to Afghanistan as well as development of the free trade zones.

The meeting will set up an experts group to work on the modalities to develop the port. India will make substantial investments in the port, some of which will come from the rupee payments for oil that India is importing from Iran, but it is yet to take a decision on investing in the port's development.

Iran and India is keen to involve Afghanistan in the building of Chabahar port as it will be the biggest beneficiary of the port. Chabahar has huge strategic significance as an alternative to Karachi port for those wanting to reach Afghanistan, which could include everybody from India to the US.

Iran has built a road connecting Chabahar to the Afghan border, while India has built the stretch from Delaram to Zaranj.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is due to arrive in Tehran in the next few days to attend a summit meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), where it is expected that India will have extensive discussions with the Iranian leadership on the conflicts in the region, specially in West Asia.

Beginning on Sunday, representatives of nearly 120 nations will convene in Iran's capital for the summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM).

Tehran soon will transform into a hub for more than a hundred top diplomats, including several heads of state.

The 16th Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit will provide a good opportunity for Iran to introduce its various potentials to NAM members during their stay in Tehran.

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