Iran denies ‘dropping’ India from key railway project

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New Delhi: Iran denied an Indian newspaper report that New Delhi was dropped from a key rail project along the border with Afghanistan after it showed reluctance in investing fearing American sanctions.

A deputy to Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization, Farhad Montaser, called the story “totally false because Iran has not inked any deal with India regarding the Zahedan-Chabahr” railway.

“Iran has only signed two agreements with Indians for investment in Chabahar: one is related to port’s machinery and equipment, and the second is related to India’s investment to the tune of $150 million,” Montaser said on Wednesday.

“We had a list of Indian investments in Chabahar port, which also included the issue of Chabahar railway infrastructure and the railway, but during the negotiations it was not agreed,” Montaser added.

He added “sanctions have nothing to do to Iran-India’s cooperation in Chabahar”.

The dismissal from Iran came as the answer to the earlier reports which mentioned that Iran had decided to drop out India from the construction of a railway line from Chahbahar port to Zahedan, along the border with Afghanistan and that the Iranian government has decided to proceed with the construction on its own.

The report mentioned that the delay in funding and the start of the project from the Indian government is the reason for India’s drop out.

As per the reports, it has also been mentioned that Ircon International, the Indian Public Sector Railway Company has pledged to provide all the services and funding for the project, which is estimated to be about $1.6 billion.

In 2018, Washington agreed to a waiver for Chabahar port under the Iran Freedom and Counter-Proliferation Act of 2012, but the newspaper said Indian officials were still wary.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has previously described the port as a vital part of shaping Iran’s economic future.

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