Modi meets Afghan president

Tehran, May 23 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday met Afghan President Ashraf Ghani here ahead of the signing of a trilateral agreement for the development of Chabahar port that will provide India and Afghanistan trade connectivity through Iran.

“Whether in Kabul, Delhi or Tehran, #IndiaAfghan friend’p is continously strengthened. OM w/ President @ashrafghani,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted.

The meeting took place after Ghani’s arrival here earlier in the day to preside over the signing ceremony alongwith Modi and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

Modi and Ghani’s meeting comes after their December 25 meeting when Modi paid a bilateral visit to Kabul to inaugurate the Afghan parliament complex built by India.

Earlier on Monday, India and Iran signed three bilateral agreements for the development of the Chabahar port, in the Gulf of Oman.

The agreement to develop Phase I of Chabahar port is seen as India’s counter to the development of the deep-sea port of Gwadar, in Balochistan in Pakistan, that opens into the Arabian Sea, close to the Strait of Hormuz, and will allow China access to the Indian Ocean.

The development of Chabahar port, located about 70 km from Gwadar, will allow India to circumvent Pakistan and open up an alternative land-sea route for its trade with Afghanistan.

India has already spent $100 million in building the 220-km Zaranj-Delaram highway in Afghanistan, also known as Route 606, which connects to Chabahar.

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