Iran, India and Afghanistan sign a key trilateral deal, known as the Chabahar Agreement, to establish a strategic transit and transport route connecting the three countries.
The agreement was signed in the presence of Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the Iranian capital of Tehran.
Addressing reporters after the signing ceremony, Rouhani said the event marks a historic occasion with regard to relationship between the three countries.
He added that the deal between Tehran, New Delhi and Kabul sends the message that countries in the region can make progress through cooperation and tapping into regional opportunities.
“Today’s document is not only an economic document, rather [it] is a political document and a regional document and the document’s message is that regional countries should use regional opportunities to develop and strengthen the whole of the region,” Rouhani said.
He emphasized that Iran-India-Afghanistan cooperation will serve the interests of the entire region, stressing that Chabahar Port epitomizes such cooperation.
Highlighting the significance of Chabahar Port, the Iranian president said it can connect India to Afghanistan and Central Asian states.
“With joint investment and activity in Chabahar, we can connect India via a secure route to Afghanistan and the Central Asian and Caucasus states,” he pointed out.
He said other countries have the opportunity to join the agreement in the future.
“Today’s document and agreement will not be against any country and the work among the three countries will be beneficial to the entire region, particularly regional peace and stability,” Rouhani added.
Chabahar is located in the Gulf of Oman on the border with Pakistan. It is Iran’s closest and best access point to the Indian Ocean.
The port will be a game changer for regional connectivity, especially for Afghanistan, which can find an assured and reliable alternative access to India via sea.
The route will also significantly enhance prospects for India’s connectivity with Afghanistan, Central Asia and beyond through synergies with other initiatives touching the region such as North-South transport corridor.
Earlier in the day, President Rouhani held separate meetings with President Ghani and Prime Minister Modi.
The Indian premier, for his part, said Tehran, New Delhi and Kabul would proceed with their cordial relations, adding the three sides are creating history not just for their nations but for all people in the region.
He added that India attaches importance to economic participation and seeks new and secure ways to bolster cooperation with Iran and Afghanistan in this regard.
Pointing to deep-rooted relations between Tehran and New Delhi in different sectors, Modi said his current trip to the Islamic Republic would open a new chapter in bilateral ties.
He added that the transit deal can establish a new way for enhanced economic cooperation in the region.
For his part, the Afghan president reaffirmed his country’s commitment to the trilateral transit deal and said Asia is turning into a big economic hub.
Afghan President Mohmmad Ashraf Ghani added that cooperation among countries in the region plays a key role in improving regional nations’ welfare.
He said some countries in the region are exporting terrorism but India, Afghanistan and Iran send the message of joint cooperation and welfare and stability of regional nations.