India, Iran sign bilateral seafarer pact amid Chabahar Port talks

As talks over the development of Chabahar Port gain momentum, India and Iran on Monday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) mutually recognising certificates of competency in unlimited voyages of seafarers from both the nations.

The signing of the MoU is aimed at smoothening the movement of seafarers from both the countries, India’s ministry of ports, shipping, and waterways said.

Union Minister Sarbananda Sonowal is on a four-day visit to Iran to review the progress on the development of the Shahid Behesti terminal of Chabahar Port, a crucial cog in the potentially game-changing International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC).

The seafarer agreement, along with the handover of six mobile harbour cranes to the port authority, is the first tangible development after years of dormancy owing to the unfulfilled potential of the port and Covid-related restrictions.

So far, Sonowal has met Iran’s Vice-President Mohammad Mokhber, and minister of roads and urban development Rostam Ghasemi, with steady talks between the latter and Sonowal on a long-term agreement for development of Chabahar Port.

Iranian media reported that Ghasemi expects these negotiations to bring fruit within the next two months, after all legal and technical processes have been completed.

Business Standard reported last week that these talks were in the minister’s agenda, along with an Iranian proposal to extend the lease for the port by 18 months.

Chabahar Port is slated to be India’s gateway for trade with central Asian and European nations, along with increased engagement with Russia, once its potential is leveraged by linking it to INSTC. It was developed with Indian assistance and is currently operated by state-owned India Ports Global.

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