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NEW DELHI : India and Iran are discussing establishing an international arbitration process for any dispute settlement pertaining to the strategic Chabahar port in Iran, developed and operated by India.

Two officials aware of the developments said the talks have largely been about where arbitration should be held. Mumbai and Dubai are among the cities bring considered where arbitration can take place, with India preferring an Indian city, said one of the officials.

Under Iran’s constitution, such arbitration cannot be referred to foreign courts. International arbitration would require an amendment to the constitution. “Negotiations are going on and a team has been sent from India to Iran to discuss the matter," said the other official, adding that a breakthrough is expected soon.

If the talks take concrete shape, it would be a major breakthrough for the much-awaited long-term agreement that will replace the ongoing initial pact which covered India’s operations at Shahid Beheshti terminal in Chabahar port and has been renewed annually. The long-term agreement will be valid for a period of 10 years and will be extended automatically.

Queries sent to the ministries of ports, shipping and waterways, and external affairs and the Iranian embassy in New Delhi remained unanswered.

IPGL operates the Shahid Beheshti terminal at Chabahar. Since IPGL began operations at the terminal in 2018, it has handled more than 4.8 mn tonnes of bulk cargo, including trans-shipments from Australia, Bangladesh, Brazil, Germany and the UAE, according to government data.

subhash.narayan@livemint.com

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