India on Sunday flagged off its first consignment of wheat to Afghanistan to be transhipped through Iran’s Chabahar port.
“…External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Foreign Minister of Afghanistan Salahuddin Rabbani, through a joint video conference, flagged off the first shipment of wheat from India to Afghanistan that would be transhipped through the Chabahar port in Iran,” the External Affairs Ministry said in a statement.
“The shipment is part of a commitment made by the Government of India to supply 1.1 million tonnes of wheat for the people of Afghanistan on grant basis,” it said
The MEA statement said that the two Foreign Ministers welcomed the fact that this is the first shipment that would go to Afghanistan through Chabahar after the trilateral agreement to develop the port as a transport and transit corridor between India, Iran and Afghanistan was signed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Iranian and Afghan Presidents Hassan Rouhani and Ashraf Ghani in May last year.
“Six more wheat shipments will be sent to Afghanistan over the next few months,” the statement said, adding that both ministers also reaffirmed their commitment to continue cooperation for the benefit and prosperity of the people of Afghanistan and the region.
The shipment to Afghanistan comes in the wake of Ghani’s one-day visit to India on October 24 just before US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reached here in his first visit in his official capacity. India is a major development aid partner for strife-stricken Afghanistan and New Delhi’s role was appreciated by Tillerson in a joint address to media with Sushma Swaraj.
“The shipment of wheat is a landmark moment as it will pave the way for operationalisation of the Chabahar port as an alternate, reliable and robust connectivity for Afghanistan,” the External Affairs Ministry statement said.
“It will open up new opportunities for trade and transit from and to Afghanistan and enhance trade and commerce between the three countries and the wider region.”
According to the statement, Sushma Swaraj reiterated India’s continued commitment to support reconstruction, capacity building and socio-economic development of Afghanistan, including under the framework of the New Development Partnership that she had jointly announced with Rabbani last month during the meeting of India-Afghanistan Strategic Partnership Council.
“She also renewed commitment to work closely with regional and international partners to bring peace, security, stability and prosperity in Afghanistan,” the statement said.
This follows the first Afghanistan-India air corridor, that bypasses Pakistan, to improve commerce, which was inaugurated by Ghani in June.