Chabahar must remain out of sanction: India to US

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh speaks at a joint press conference after the conclusion of India-US 2+2 dialogue in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019. Also seen are (L-R) External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper. (PTI Photo)

India hopes that the latest US sanctions on Iran would bypass the Chabahar port, which is crucial to India's geopolitical and commercial interests in the region.

“In the past US has shown understanding on the importance of Chabahar project and its importance to provide continuous connectivity to Afghanistan. We hope US exempts Chabahar from the sanctions,” Raveesh Kumar, spokesperson, Ministry of External Affairs said here.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday had a telephonic conversation with the US Secretary of Defence Mark T Esper during which the two ministers spoke about the Gulf crisis besides bilateral ties. Singh also spoke to his Japanese counterpart Taro Kono on the regional security issues.

The port in the Sistan-Balochistan province of the energy-rich nation lies outside the Persian Gulf and is easily accessible from India's western coast. While it provides an alternate access to landlocked Afghanistan, New Delhi intends to use the gateway for increased trade with central Asian nations.

Kumar said India would like quick deescalation of the tension and return of peace, security and stability. Foreign Minister S Jaishankar has spoken to his counterparts in Iran, UAE, Oman, Qatar, Jordan and USA on issues related to regional conflicts and escalation.

Asked about the possibility of evacuating the Indians living in Iran, Kumar said such a move would be considered only if necessary. While INS Trikhand is on deployment in the Persian Gulf as a part, Indian Navy is on stand-by in case of any emergency.

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