June 3, 2013

AFGHANISTAN: Iran Seeks Development of Economic, Cultural Ties with Afghanistan

Fars News Agency
written by Staff
April 20, 2013

TEHRAN - Iranian Ambassador to Kabul Abolfazl Zohrehvand underlined Tehran's enthusiasm for the further expansion of relations with Afghanistan, specially in economic and cultural fields.

"Tehran wants to expand economic, scientific and cultural ties with Afghanistan," Zohrehvand said in a meeting with Governor-General of Kandahar province Touriali Vissa on Saturday.

He referred to the economic relations between Iran and Afghanistan, and said he is in Kandahar to meet provincial officials over Iran's Chabahar port, which will soon be connected to the Central Asia via Afghanistan via a road and a rail link.

World trade experts believe that the corridor will cause a jump in regional trade and economy.

"Afghanistan will be connected to the Central Asian states by bringing the Chabahar (Southern Iran) route to operation," the Iranian envoy said, reminding the geopolitical importance of the rail link for Afghanistan.

Zohrehvand also called for strengthening cultural ties between the two countries.

The International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) was established in 2000 by Iran, Russia and India in order to promote transportation cooperation among the members. Later Azerbaijan, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz, Tajikistan, Turkey, Ukraine, Belarus, Oman, Syria and Bulgaria joined the corridor.

The corridor joins Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf to the Caspian Sea through Iran and then reaches to St. Petersburg and North Europe via Russia.

Managing-Director of the Islamic Republic of Iran Railways Abdulali Saheb-Mohammadi said in May 2012 that Indian companies have indicated their willingness to help Iran construct North-South Corridor.

"We have had negotiations with the Indian side so that they can be involved in building the corridor and Iran has also announced readiness to cooperate with them," Saheb-Mohammadi said.

India is expected to sign a contract with Iran soon for transit of Indian goods to Afghanistan via Chabahar port, media reports said in March.

Iran and India have agreed on transit of Indian goods to Afghanistan via the southern Iranian port of Chabahar in a bid to ease its exports to Afghanistan, the Indian Express newspaper quoted an informer Indian source as saying on condition of anonymity.

The Southern sea port of Chabahar has already been connected to Afghanistan with a newly built road; a move which analysts say will boost trade between the two countries and allow Afghan goods to reach foreign markets without relying on Pakistan.

The new trade route will also allow Indian goods to reach Afghan and other Central Asian markets with greater ease.

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