New Delhi: India, Uzbekistan, Iran and Afghanistan are likely to hold a meeting under a quadrilateral framework later this year on the joint use of the Chabahar port, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said on Thursday.

India also has proposed to include the port in the framework of the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC), MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said at a media briefing.

At a connectivity conference in Tashkent two weeks back, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar projected Iran's Chabahar port as a key regional transit hub including to Afghanistan.

Located in the Sistan-Baluchistan province on the energy-rich Iran's southern coast, the Chabahar port is being increasingly seen as a fulcrum of connectivity to Central Asia.

The port is being developed by India, Iran and Afghanistan to boost trade ties among the three countries in the wake of Pakistan denying transit access to New Delhi. It can be easily accessed from India's western coast, bypassing Pakistan.

Referring to Jaishankar's remarks at the conference, Bagchi said he highlighted that India has taken practical steps since 2016 to operationalise the Chabahar port and that its "efficacy is now clearly proven".

"India has proposed to include the port in the framework of International North-South Transport Corridor and has welcomed the formation of India-Uzbekistan-Iran-Afghanistan Quadrilateral Working Group on the joint use of Chabahar port," the spokesperson said.

"The meeting is likely to take place in later half of this year. Since December 2018, Chabahar port has handled 134 vessels, 14258 TEUs of containers and more than 2.08 million metric tons of bulk and general cargo," he said.

The International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) is a 7,200-km-long multi-mode transport project for moving freight among India, Iran, Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Russia, Central Asia and Europe.