By RFE/RL’s Radio Free Afghanistan
February 24, 2019
Afghanistan has sent its first exports shipment to India through Iran’s strategic Chabahar Port.
The port on the Indian Ocean, inaugurated in 2017, has been built largely by India and will provide a key supply route for Afghanistan while allowing India to bypass rival Pakistan to trade with Central Asia.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who attended a special ceremony on February 24 in the western city of Zaranj to mark the event, said the exports through Chabahar Port would connect “hundreds of villages and millions of” Afghans to the outside world.
The shipment contained 570 tons of export goods carried by 23 vehicles.
Most of Afghanistan’s imports and exports go through Pakistan, which Kabul accuses of harboring the Afghan Taliban.
The U.S. State Department in November exempted the Chabahar Port project from its sanctions on Iran in recognition of its importance to landlocked Afghanistan.
The effort to build up Afghanistan’s economy is also aimed at reducing Kabul’s dependence on foreign aid and putting a major dent in the illicit opium trade that has been a major source of revenue for the Taliban insurgency.
New Delhi has poured $2 billion into development in Afghanistan since the 2001 U.S.-led overthrow of the Taliban’s government.
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