Iran in talks to lease Syrian Mediterranean port: Senior official

Danaifar, a senior economic advisor to the Iranian president as well as secretary of the committee to develop Iran’s economic ties with Iraq and Syria says the negotiations are underway to secure Tehran’s access to the Mediterranean Sea.

2 May 2019
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Danaifar, a senior economic advisor to the Iranian president as well as secretary of the committee to develop Iran’s economic ties with Iraq and Syria says the negotiations are underway to secure Tehran’s access to the Mediterranean Sea.

Cranes are pictured in the Mediterranean Sea port of Latakia, Syria. SPUTNIK/Mikhail Voskresenskiy

A senior economic advisor to the Iranian president says his country is in talks with Syria to lease one of the Arab country’s Mediterranean ports, days after news broke that Russia is also trying to lease Tartus Port.

“There are serious negotiations underway that an agreement be reached for the Iranian private sector in Syria,” Hassan Danaifar, a senior economic advisor to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, told Iran Chamber Newsroom on the sidelines of the sixth joint business forum between Iran and Syria that was held at Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture (ICCIMA) in Tehran on Wednesday.

Danaifar was referring to the fact that Tehran is negotiating with Damascus in a bid to reach an agreement about leasing one of the country’s important Mediterranean ports. There are reports that Iran is seeking to lease the strategic Latakia Port.   

“Allow us to announce it when the agreement is sealed,” stressed Danaifar without giving more details about the deal.

Watch video: Iranian president advisor Danaifar says Iran will soon lease a Syrian port    

The official made the remark after he was asked how Russia's leasing of Tartus Port will affect Iranian exports to Syria. Talks began last month to transfer the container port at Latakia to Iranian management from October 1, when its lease expires, according to The Syria Report.

Russia and Syria have said they are close to signing a deal on leasing the port of Tartus for 49 years to Russia for economic and logistical purposes.

Tartus Port, shown by red point on the left, sits very close to the Syrian port of Latakia

Latakia, Syria's main commercial port, is highly important for Iran as it has been seeking to secure an unhindered access to the Mediterranean Sea through Syria. Part of the Latakia port, where Iran wants to use, has 23 warehouses and was handling three million tonnes of cargo a year before the conflict, The Times reports. 

After the war broke out in Iraq and Syria, Tehran was forced to ship its goods and commodities to Syria through the maritime route, starting in the southern Iranian port of Bandar Abaas in the Persian Gulf and ending in Syria’s Latakia port, more than 300 km from the capital Damascus. However, the sea route has incurred higher costs for the Iranian exporters and their Syrian clients.

As Iran tries to secure its foothold in the Arab country, the Iranian heavy infrastructure giant MAPNA Group undertook in February the construction of a 540-megawatt power station in Latakia

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