India and Iran sign port deal despite US warning about haste

India reached a deal on Wednesday to develop a strategic port in southeast Iran despite US pressure not to rush into any such trade agreements before world powers clinch a final nuclear accord with Tehran. Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari and his Iranian counterpart Abbas Ahmad Akhoundi signed a memorandum of understanding to develop the Chabahar Port on the Gulf of Oman, near Iran’s border with India’s arch rival Pakistan. “Indian firms will lease two existing berths at the port and operationalize them as container and multi-purpose cargo terminals,” the Indian government said in a statement, adding that a commercial accord would be needed to implement the pact. India and Iran agreed in 2003 to develop the port, but the venture has made little progress because of Western sanctions tied to Tehran’s disputed atomic program. Now, spurred on by Chinese President Xi Jinping’s signing of energy and infrastructure agreements with neighboring Pakistan worth $46 billion, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants swiftly to sign trade deals with Iran and other Gulf countries.



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