India sends first Afghan wheat shipment via Iran port

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However, the use of Chabahar for wheat transhipment indicates the firming up of an alternative route to extend necessary support to Afghanistan, in the absence of overland transit rights by Pakistan.

India on Sunday flagged off its first consignment of wheat to Afghanistan to be transhipped through Iran's Chabahar port.

India, Iran and Afghanistan are building the Chabahar Port in the strategic Iranian port city, apparently to counter the Gwadar port plan of Pakistan and China.

India's External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said on Sunday that the shipment marked the convergence among India, Afghanistan and Iran to spur an unhindered flow of commerce and trade throughout the region.

She added: "Last year in May, when our leaders met in Tehran, they jointly took the decision to establish an worldwide transport and transit corridor between India, Afghanistan and Iran".

The minister also thanked Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani for joining her to flag off the first shipment of wheat today.

IAEA chief in Tehran for nuke-related talks
In a speech to parliament on Sunday, Rouhani also hit out at the United States , calling negotiations with Washington "madness". On Thursday, Congress passed new sanctions in response to Iran's ballistic missiles programme.

In June, India and Afghanistan had launched an air freight corridor between the two countries to boost trade as Pakistan has been refusing land transit access through its territory. Also, the Indian government will also send six more wheat shipment to Afghanistan in next few months.

It may be mentioned that India announced a support of $1 billion to Afghanistan this September as direct financial assistance to Kabul government.

"The two foreign ministers welcomed the fact that this is the first shipment that would be going to Afghanistan through Chabahar Port after the trilateral agreement on establishment of worldwide transport and transit corridor was signed during the visit of the prime minister of India to Iran in May 2016", the statement added.

Sources in Ministry of External Affairs indicate that a meeting of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will be held in Tehran in November this year for expanding Indo-Afghan corridor through Iran. The wheat that is leaving Indian shores today is a gift from the people of India to our Afghan brethren.

As per the reports, the EAM has also reaffirmed their commitment to continue their cooperation for prosperity and benefits of Afghanistan people. "I believe this is the starting point of our journey to realise the full spectrum of connectivity - from culture to commerce; from traditions to technology; from investments to IT; from services to strategy; and from people to politics, that has been visualised by Prime Minister Modi".

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