New Delhi: In a major boost to New Delhi's diplomatic efforts on the connectivity front, India on Thursday was admitted to the Ashgabat Agreement that envisages transit and transportation of goods between Central Asia and the Persian Gulf.
"Turkmenistan, as depository State of Ashgabat Agreement, informed India today that all the four founding members have consented to the accession of India and that India's accession to the Agreement will enter into force on February 3, 2018," an MEA statement said.
It said, "India has been admitted to Agreement on the Establishment of an International Transport and Transit Corridor" between Iran, Oman, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan signed on April 25, 2011, known as the Ashgabat Agreement.
"Accession to the Agreement would diversify India's connectivity options with Central Asia and have a positive influence on India's trade and commercial ties with the region," the statement said.
"Upon receipt of approval of the Union Cabinet for India's accession to the Ashgabat Agreement, India had deposited the Instrument of Accession with Turkmenistan in April 2016."
Kazakhstan and Pakistan later joined the agreement that was signed between the two West Asian nations of Iran and Oman and the two Central Asian nations of Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
The Ashgabat Agreement, which seeks to enhance connectivity within the Eurasian region and synchronise it with other transport corridors within that region including the International North-South Transport Corridor, comes as a shot in the arm for India in its connectivity efforts.
It also assumes significance given Beijing's One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative of which the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), that leads to Gwadar port in Pakistan passing through Pakistan-administered Kashmir, is a major part.
India's stand has been that while it is all for connectivity, such initiatives should respect the territorial integrity of other countries.
Thursday's development comes after the Chabahar port in Iran - jointly developed by India, Iran and Afghanistan - became operational in December last year.