New Delhi: India on Sunday sent its first consignment of wheat for Afghanistan to be shipped through the Chabahar port in Iran, seen as a "landmark" move to operationalise the strategic transit route.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and her Afghan counterpart Salahuddin Rabbani flagged off the shipment of wheat from India to Afghanistan through video conferencing, the ministry of external affairs (MEA) said.
"The shipment of wheat is a landmark moment as it will pave the way for operationalisation of the Chabahar port as an alternate, reliable and robust connectivity for Afghanistan," it said in a statement.
On the occasion, Swaraj reiterated India's continued commitment to support reconstruction, capacity building and socio-economic development of Afghanistan, including under the framework of the New Development Partnership that she had jointly announced with Rabbani last month during the meeting of India-Afghanistan Strategic Partnership Council.
"She also renewed commitment to work closely with regional and international partners to bring peace, security, stability and prosperity in Afghanistan," the MEA said.
It said the Chabahar port in Iran will open up new opportunities for trade and transit from and to Afghanistan and enhance trade and commerce between the three countries and the wider region.
"The two Foreign Ministers welcomed the fact that this is the first shipment that would be going to Afghanistan through the Chabahar port after trilateral agreement on Establishment of International Transport and Transit Corridor was signed during the visit of the Prime Minister of India to Iran in May 2016," the MEA said.
Six more wheat shipments will be sent to Afghanistan over the next few months.
Swaraj and Rabbani also reaffirmed their commitment to continue their cooperation for the benefit and prosperity of the people of Afghanistan and the region.
India and Iran have already expressed commitment for early completion of the work on the Chabahar Port project.
Chabahar port, located in the Sistan-Balochistan province on the energy-rich Persian Gulf nation's southern coast, lies outside the Persian Gulf and can be easily accessed from India's western coast, bypassing Pakistan.
The port is likely to ramp up trade between India, Afghanistan and Iran in the wake of Pakistan denying transit access to New Delhi for trade with the two countries.
India has been closely working with Afghanistan to create alternate and reliable access routes, bypassing Pakistan.
An air freight corridor between India and Afghanistan was also operationalised earlier this year to give a fillip to the bilateral trade relations.
Published Date: Oct 30, 2017 08:56 AM | Updated Date: Oct 30, 2017 13:12 PM