India approves plan to develop Iran's Chabahar port

NEW DELHI (REUTERS) - India will float a company to develop Iran's Chabahar Port, a government statement said on Saturday, as New Delhi aims to take advantage of a thaw in Teheran's relations with world powers.

The port of Chabahar in south-east Iran is central to India's efforts to circumvent Pakistan and open up a route to landlocked Afghanistan where it has developed close security ties and economic interests.

Iran and six world powers are engaged in talks to agree on a deal easing sanctions against Teheran before a late-November deadline.

The powers want Iran to scale back its uranium enrichment programme to ensure it cannot produce nuclear bombs. Iran says the programme is for peaceful purposes.

India plans to sign an agreement with Iran for the development of the port and New Delhi intends to lease two berths at Chabahar for 10 years, the statement said.

The planned Indian company will invest US$85.21 million (S$108 million) in one year to convert the berths into a container terminal and a multi-purpose cargo terminal, the statement said, adding India would consider the participation of Iranian firms if needed.

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