Tribune News Service
NEW DELHI, DECEMBER 12
In a rare quicksilver move in diplomacy, India, Iran and Uzbekistan will hold trilateral meeting on the joint use of Chabahar port on December 14, three days after it was proposed by Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev during a virtual summit with PM Narendra Modi.
The move will increase the use of Chabahar port in Iran to step up its trade and economic engagement with Central Asia bypassing Pakistan. Uzbekistan is Central Asia’s most populous nation and has ample reserves of uranium, gold, coal and oil. Some of these natural resources could be evacuated from Chabahar to parts of world not easily accessible to this double landlocked country.
“This will open up economic opportunities for the traders and business community of the region. Besides Uzbekistan, other Central Asian countries have also shown interest in using the port. India seeks to cooperate closely with regional countries on this issue,” said a statement issued by the MEA.
In an indication of the importance assigned to the first “Trilateral Working Group Meeting”, the co-chairs will be at the Deputy Minister level from Iran and Uzbekistan, and Secretary-level from India.
India is involved in the development of the first phase of Shahid Beheshti Port in Chabahar in cooperation with Iran to open up sea-land connectivity between India and Afghanistan. The plan is to push this connectivity into Central Asia and beyond. Aware that this route provides a second access from the sea apart from Karachi, the US has given a waiver from sanctions for the development of this Iranian port.
The route, if gets patronised by Central Asian countries such as Uzbekistan, will render insignificant Pakistan’s blocking of connectivity initiatives in the region, especially from India to Afghanistan and the five Central Asian nations.
Major transit point
- The port is being developed by India, Iran and Afghanistan to boost trade ties among the three countries in the wake of Pakistan denying transit access to New Delhi.
- Located in the Sistan-Balochistan province on the energy-rich Iran’s southern coast, the port can be easily accessed. from India’s western coast, bypassing Pakistan. It is considered to be a major transit point to connect with several Central Asian countries.
- The trilateral meeting is taking place in the backdrop of India pitching for participation of Uzbekistan in the International North South Transport Corridor project.