Indian and Iranian officials on Sunday reviewed the development and operations of a terminal at Chabahar port operated by India ahead of the delivery of heavier equipment to bolster cargo-handling.

An Indian delegation, led by joint secretary (Pakistan-Afghanistan-Iran) JP Singh of the external affairs ministry, is visiting Iran for political consultations and to assess the development of Shahid Beheshti terminal at the port on the Gulf of Oman.

During a meeting at Chabahar, Singh described the port as a vital hub linking India to landlocked countries and said it is key to the development of trade, economic and political relations between Tehran and New Delhi, according to Iran’s state-run media.

Singh also formally handed over two 140-tonne mobile harbour cranes that were delivered by India to Chabahar earlier this month as the first shipment of heavy equipment for developing Shahid Beheshti terminal. “We are happy to supply the port of Chabahar with two cranes…This can solve some of the problems in loading and unloading cargo,” he said.

The cranes, worth $8.5 million, were procured from an Italian firm. The first shipment also included two telescopic spreaders with adjustable arms to handle shipping containers of up to 40 tonnes.

Behrouz Aghaei, director-general of Iran’s ports and maritime department in Sistan-Baluchestan province, told the media the next consignment of heavy equipment, including two mobile coastal cranes, is expected to be shipped from Italy to Iran in the near future.

Singh said Chabahar port had handled 75,000 tonnes of wheat donated by India to Afghanistan last year, and adequate measures had been taken to upgrade the port. He added that India has always sought exemptions and waivers from sanctions for Chabahar port so that it could be used to access markets in other countries.

During the meeting, the two officials of the two sides discussed ways to further develop the infrastructure and capabilities of the port.

On Saturday, the Indian team held political consultations in Tehran with an Iranian delegation led by Rasoul Mousavi, assistant to Iran’s foreign minister and director-general for West Asia in the foreign ministry. Recent international and regional developments and bilateral ties were part of the discussions.

Singh also met Iran’s deputy foreign minister Abbas Araghchi, and their discussions focused on regional and global developments and the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), according to state-run Irna news agency. Singh invited Araghchi to India for a political dialogue before a meeting of the bilateral joint economic commission.