Mumbai: As Union Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Monday departed for Iran for the expected signing of the Chabahar port pact, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Monday asserted that the possible signing agreement between India and Iran will pave the way for bigger investments and will connect India to Central Asia.

“On the Chabahar agreement, my understanding is my cabinet colleague Sarbananda Sonawalji is today going to Iran and it is expected that we would see the long-term agreement between India and Iran on Chabahar. We’ve been running it on the basis of ad hoc arrangements. This is not because of any problem on the Indian side. The issue was really there was a lot of problems as to exactly who the combination of partners would be in Iran,” he said during a media interaction in Mumbai.

“So we believe that as and when a long-term arrangement is concluded, it will clear the pathway for bigger investments to be made in the port. Right now, the port has not grown because actually we didn’t, you know, if you don’t have a long-term agreement, it’s very difficult to invest in a port. So the very clear expectation is that the Chabahar port, at least that part of the Chabahar port that we are involved in, that will definitely see more investments,” he added.

The minister also highlighted the India-Middle-East Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC) agreement which was reached during the G20 summit hosted by India last year and said that that Chabahar port will connect the International north-south transport corridor.

“It will see more connectivity linkages coming out of that port. And we believe today that connectivity is a very big issue in that part. International north-south transport corridor, which we’re doing with Iran-Russia, Chabahar will connect us to that, also to Central Asia,” he said.


“We have a separate corridor, the IMEC corridor through Saudi Arabia. So I think I would await confirmation of the agreement, you know, Nothing is done till it’s done,” he added.

Union Minister of Ports, Shipping and Waterways Sarbananda Sonowal on Monday boarded a special Indian Air Force flight for Iran and is expected to witness signing of the crucial Chabahar port agremment between the two countries, reliable sources said.

The agreement will enable India to lease for a long-time Chabahar port situated on Iran’s coast along the Gulf of Oman.

This strategic masterstroke will open up a new trade route between South Asia and Central Asia via Iran, bypassing Karachi as well as Gwadar ports in Pakistan.

It also opens up a new vista of economic opportunities for business communities to explore an alternative transit route from the sensitive and busy Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz.

The contract of Chabahar Port Operations will mark yet another major achievement of India’s growing maritime reach in the region after the launching of Sittwe Port in Myanmar, both aimed at neutralising the growing Chinese presence in the region. Sarbananda Sonowal inaugurated the Sittwe port in Myanmar exactly a year ago – in May 2023.

Iran’s Chabahar port is seen as a key component of India’s connectivity initiatives, holding immense significance as it provides a viable and shorter route for trade between India, Iran, Afghanistan, and Central Asia.

India aims to make Chabahar Port a transit hub under the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) to reach out to CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) countries. INSTC is India’s vision to economise the movement of cargo between India and Central Asia, and the Chabahar Port would act as a commercial transit centre for the region.

INSTC is a multi-modal transportation route linking the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf to the Caspian Sea via Iran and onward to northern Europe via St Petersburg in Russia.

The INSTC envisages the movement of goods from Mumbai to the Shahid Beheshti Port – Chabahar (Iran) by sea, from Chabahar to Bandar-e-Anzali (an Iranian port on the Caspian Sea) by road, and then from Bandar-e-Anzali to Astrakhan (a Caspian port in the Russian Federation) by ship across the Caspian Sea, and after that from Astrakhan to other regions of the Russian Federation and further into Europe by Russian railways.

(With Agency Inputs)