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India sends first wheat shipment for Afghanistan via Iranian Chabahar port

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signing-chabahar

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Foreign Ministers of three countries flagged-off the ship

Opening the wider door of cooperation among India, Afghanistan and Iran, the much awaited project of Chabahar port became operational on Sunday when foreign ministers of the three countries flagged off the first shipment of wheat from India to Afghanistan. Six more wheat shipments will be sent to Afghanistan during next few months.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif and Foreign Minister of Afghanistan Salahuddin Rabbani, had jointly flagged off the shipment from India to Afghanistan through a video conference.

According to a statement issued by Ministry of External Affairs, the shipment is a part of India’s commitment of supplying 1.1 million tons of wheat for the people of Afghanistan on grant basis.

“The three foreign ministers welcomed the fact that this is the first shipment that would be going to Afghanistan through the Chabahar port after a trilateral agreement on Establishment of International Transport and Transit Corridor was signed during the visit of the Indian Prime Minister to Iran in May 2016,” the statement said.

It will pave the way for operationalisation of the Chabahar port which is being developed by India as an alternate, reliable and robust connectivity to Afghanistan.

The first shipping of Indian wheat supplies through Iranian port was flagged off at a time when US is hardening its position over Iran and has decertified the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and six world powers, including five permanent UN Security Council members and Germany. Despite Trump’s anti Iranian moves, Russia and European countries have decided to continue with the deal.

India has announced an investment of $ 500 million in Chabahar port complex and the strategic port is expected to be fully operational by the end of 2018. Earlier this year, Tehran offered New Delhi a proposal to manage phase one of the port built by Iran for a period of two years which could be renewed by another decade.

Pakistan does not allow Indian goods to pass through its territories for Afghanistan. India and Afghanistan have also launched an air cargo corridor between New Delhi and Kabul June this year.

US President Donald Trump, while announcing new Afghanistan strategy in October, had asked India to do more to help development in Afghanistan.

In September this year, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had assured her Afghan counterpart Salahuddin Rabbani to speed up the development work at Chabahar port. Rabbani had raised the issue while meeting Swaraj in New Delhi. He had also asked India to expand the air freight corridor.

Chabahar is to be linked with Delaram-Zaranj road built by India in Afghanistan that connects Afghan-Iran border via Zahedan. A road connecting Iran-Afghan border point to Chabahar already exists.

India is also constructing Chabahar-Zahedan railway line to connect the port to the rest of Iranian railway network. Once completed, this will help to connect North-South Transport Corridor connecting India to Russia and rest of Europe.

The historical trilateral deal to develop Chabahar port was signed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in Tehran on May 24 last year. The project, once completed, will halve the time and cost of doing business with Central Asia and Europe.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while talking to media after signing the agreement, was quoted saying, “We want to link with the world. (The) agreement …can alter the course of history of the region.”

Development of Iran’s Chabahar port by India is seen as a balancing act. China has earlier developed Gawadar port in Pakistan for creating link to Indian Ocean region. India started negotiations with Tehran more than a decade ago.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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Sri Lankan Minister Douglas Devananda says statements on reclaiming Katchatheevu island from Sri Lanka have no ground

Devananda told the media on Thursday that it is not unusual to hear such claims and counterclaims about Katchatheevu as elections are taking place in India.

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Sri Lankan Minister Douglas Devananda has said the statements from some political leaders in India on reclaiming Katchatheevu from the island nation have no ground. He told the media on Thursday that it is not unusual to hear such claims and counterclaims about the strategic island as elections are taking place in India.

The Sri Lankan Minister said he thought India is acting on its interests to secure this place to ensure Sri Lankan fishermen would not have any access to that area and that Sri Lanka should not claim any rights in that resourceful area. According to the 1974 agreement, Devananda said Indian and Sri Lankan fishermen can go fishing in the territorial waters of both countries until the pact was reviewed and amended in 1976.

The amended agreement resulted in fishermen from both countries being barred from fishing in neighboring waters. India’s ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Thursday steered clear of the row surrounding Katchatheevu island. To a volley of questions on the Katchatheevu issue, MEA spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal reffered to External affairs Minister S Jaishankar’s recent comments on the matter.

He said he would like to talk about the issue that has been raised. He added the External Affairs minister has spoken to the press here in Delhi and also in Gujarat and has clarified all the issues. He said everyone should look into the press engagements and they would find the answers to their questions there.

The remarks from Devananda, a Sri Lankan Tamil, came days after the Narendra Modi government accused the Congress and its ally DMK in Tamil Nadu of overlooking national interests by handing over Katchatheevu island to Sri Lanka in 1974. The BJP has also been slamming the 2 parties for not ensuring the rights of the fishermen wanting to fish in waters around the island.

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US reiterates its call for fair, transparent, legal process for Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, speaks on Congress frozen accounts

The US spokesperson said that they are also aware of the Congress party’s allegations that tax authorities have frozen some of their bank accounts in a manner that will make it challenging to effectively campaign in the upcoming elections.

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A day after India summoned an US diplomat over their remarks on the arrest of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in the liquor policy case, the US reiterated its call for fair, transparent, timely legal processes on Wednesday.

Responding to questions on India summoning Gloria Berbena, the US Acting Deputy Chief of Mission in New Delhi, US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said that they will continue to follow these actions closely, including the arrest of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. Notably, the meeting at the foreign ministry’s South Block office lasted nearly 40 minutes yesterday with India objecting strongly to the US remarks on the arrest of Arvind Kejriwal.

Matthew Miller also responded to a question on the Congress party’s frozen bank accounts. The US spokesperson said that they are also aware of the Congress party’s allegations that tax authorities have frozen some of their bank accounts in a manner that will make it challenging to effectively campaign in the upcoming elections. He added that the US encourages fair, transparent and timely legal processes for each of the issues.

Arvind Kejriwal was arrested last week by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection to the Delhi liquor policy scam. Earlier, AAP leaders Manish Sisodia, Satyendar Jain and Sanjay Singh were arrested in the same case.

The External Affairs Ministry had earlier stated that states are expected to be respectful of the sovereignty and internal affairs of others, and this responsibility is even more so in case of fellow democracies, adding that it could otherwise end up setting unhealthy precedents.

The Ministry further emphasized that India’s legal processes are based on an independent judiciary which is committed to objective and timely outcomes. It mentioned that casting aspersions on India’s legal procedure is unwarranted.

The United State’s remarks followed days after Germany’s Foreign Office stressed that Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal is entitled to a fair and impartial trial. The Indian government labelled their remark as blatant interference in internal matters.

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5 Chinese nationals killed in suicide bomb attack in Pakistan

This is the third major attack on Chinese interests in Pakistan within a week.

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Nearly five Chinese nationals were killed in an explosion during an attack on their convoy by a suicide bomber in northwest Pakistan on Tuesday. Reportedly, the suicide bomber rammed an explosives-laden vehicle into a convoy of Chinese engineers travelling from Islamabad to their camp in Dasu, situated in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

Regional police chief Mohammad Ali Gandapur said that five Chinese nationals and their Pakistani driver were killed in the attack. As yet, none has claimed responsibility for the attack. Bisham Station House Officer (SHO) Bakht Zahir asserted that the incident was a suicide blast and the authorities concerned were collecting the evidence.

The Station House Officer further added that security arrangements were tightened at the spot and the bodies were being shifted to a hospital. He added that they will investigate from where and how the vehicle of a suicide bomber came and how it happened. Notably, this is the third major attack on Chinese interests in Pakistan within a week.

Previously, two attacks hit an airbase and a strategic port in the southwest province of Balochistan where China is investing billions in infrastructure projects. Several Chinese engineers and Pakistani construction workers have for multiple years been working on hydroelectric projects as part of Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative in the western province of Khyber-Paktunkhwa.

Notably, Dasu is home to a significant dam project, has been a target of previous attacks. Earlier in 2021, the attack in Dasu resulted in the deaths of nine Chinese nationals, along with two Pakistani children. The incident occured when a bus carrying Chinese engineers and workers to the Dasu Hydropower Project site was targeted.

There was confusion surrounding the nature of the attack initially, with some reports suggesting it was a bus accident. Nonetheless, subsequent investigations revealed that it was indeed a terrorist attack. The bus was hit by a blast, leading it to plunge into a ravine.

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