International media reports say Iran has opened a US$1 billion extension of its southeastern Chabahar port which Tehran hopes will help the country become a key transit route to land-locked Afghanistan and Central Asia.  

According to Reuters, Iranian state television reported on December 3 that President Hassan Rouhani inaugurated the expansion, carried out with an investment of $1 billion including $235 million from India, which has more than tripled the port’s capacity to 8.5 million tons a year.

India has reportedly committed $500 million to the Chabahar port, which is Iran’s closest to the Indian Ocean and would allow it to bypass rival Pakistan.  

In October, India reportedly sent its first consignment of wheat to Afghanistan through Chabahar, located about 140 kilometers from Pakistan’s Gwadar port which is being developed with Chinese help.

The Telegraph says the development reflects a growing convergence of interests among India, Iran and Afghanistan.

India's foreign ministry reportedly said that junior shipping minister Pon Radhakrishnan had represented the country at the inauguration of Phase-I of the Shahid Beheshti Port, attended also by ambassadors and senior officials of the region.

India, Iran and Afghanistan held a trilateral ministerial meeting on the sidelines of the event, resolving to develop their port, road and railway networks to open up greater access to regional markets and better integrate their economies, according to The Telegraph.

The three countries reportedly reaffirmed their commitment to completing and operationalizing the port at the earliest.

"It was decided to finalize protocols related to transport and transit, ports, customs procedures and consular affairs," a joint statement issued after the meeting said.

According to the joint statement, the three ministers also discussed a trilateral pact relating to the project.