Source: The Economic Times
NEW YORK: The US will take into consideration the impact of American sanctions against Tehran will have on India’s Chabahar Port project in Iran that provides a surface link between New Delhi and Kabul, according to a senior State Department official.
“When it comes to Chabahar, we are in the process of reviewing the imposition of sanctions,” Alice Wells, the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asia, told IANS in an interview.
“So that process (of review) is underway and we take India’s concerns and interest in being able to expand exports to Afghanistan and to increase Afghanistan exports to India, very seriously.
“As we look at the reinforcement of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) or the sanctions, we will, I think carefully, evaluate the impact that it could have, for instance on Afghanistan,” she added.
President Donald Trump has pulled the US out of the nuclear deal or the JCPOA signed between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council along with Germany and the European Union (EU), to end sanctions in return for Tehran stopping nuclear weapons development.
Washington has begun reimposing sanctions on Iran and warning those trading with it would come under its ambit.
“Certainly the wheat exports that India has sent to Afghanistan have been critical particularly at a time when the drought is having such an impact and will certainly impact the supplies that will be available to the Afghan population this year,” Wells said.
Last year, New Delhi sent 1.1 million tonnes of wheat as aid to Afghanistan through Chabahar and the road link it built to connect it to that country.
“At the heart of it is the open trading system that has benefited all of the countries of the region,” Wells said.
“America has about $1.4 trillion in bilateral trade with the countries of the Indo-Pacific region.”
Asked about the China factor in the Indo-Pacific strategy, Wells said: “I think the Indian and American administrations (it) is not a zero sum construct; it is not designed to be against any country but rather for a set of principles.”
“The maritime channels are vital to global prosperity and security and so the initiatives that we are undertaking, whether its economic or promoting regional connectivity, governance, in promoting the policies that allow economies to operate freely in security, to determine maritime security as well as humanitarian assistance during times of crisis — all of these are deeply in the interest of all of the countries of the region.”
Besides the strategic and political common interests, there are also “deep people-to-people ties that bind our countries together, whether it is through the diaspora communities or the 186,000 students who are in the US studying, and the million and a half or 1.6 million travel to the US and the over 1 million American tourists who travel to India”, Wells noted.