US has shown understanding of Chabahar Port operations importance: Govt

The US has shown understanding of the importance of the Chabahar Port operations for continued humanitarian supplies to Afghanistan, the government said on Wednesday, amid concerns that increased American sanctions against Iran may impact projects.

In a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha, Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan said India is participating in the development of the first phase of Shahid Behesti Port in Chabahar in cooperation with the Iranian government.

The Indian company, India Ports Global Limited, had taken over port operations in December 2018 and has successfully handled over 5 lakh tonnes of cargo, including exports from Afghanistan through the Chabahar Port that began in February 2019, he said.

“The US has shown understanding of the importance of the Chabahar Port operations for continued humanitarian supplies to Afghanistan and to provide Afghanistan with economic alternatives,” Muraleedharan said.

Responding to another question on the government”s position on China”s ”One Belt One Road” (OBOR) or ”Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI), he said the government”s concerns arise in part from the fact that the inclusion of the so-called illegal ”China-Pakistan Economic Corridor” (CPEC) as a flagship project of OBOR/BRI, directly impinges on the issue of sovereignty and territorial integrity of India.

“This so-called illegal CPEC passes through parts of the union territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh which are under illegal occupation of Pakistan. The government has conveyed its concerns to the Chinese side about their activities in areas illegally occupied by Pakistan and has asked them to cease such activities,” the minister said.

The government is of the firm belief that connectivity initiatives must be based on universally recognised international norms, Muraleedharan said.

“They must follow principles of openness, transparency and financial responsibility and must be pursued in a manner that respects sovereignty, equality and territorial integrity of other nations,” he said.