Iran ready to connect Chabahar with Gwadar: FM Zarif

Iranian FM says the two strategic ports are not seeking rivalry as he tries to strengthen the country’s economic relations with the eastern neighbour, that’s been funded by China and Saudi Arabia to improve its economy.

24 May 2019
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Iranian FM says the two strategic ports are not seeking rivalry as he tries to strengthen the country’s economic relations with the eastern neighbour, that’s been funded by China and Saudi Arabia to improve its economy.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, left, holds talks with Pakistanin Prime Minister Imran Khan in Islamabad on Friday, 24 May, 2019. PAKISTAN TODAY

Iran’s foreign minister says Tehran is ready to connect the strategic Iranian and Pakistani ports of Chabahar and Gwadar to promote trade and commerce in the region, stressing the two ports can be complementary rather than rivals..

Iran’s foreing policy chief Mohammad Javad Zarif made the remakr when his plane landed in the Pakistáni capital Islamabad on Thursday night.

Video: Iranian FM Zarif proposes linking Chabahar, Gwadar ports 

He reiterated the proposal in a meeting with Pakistan’s civil-military leadership on Friday as well. 

“I’ve come here with a proposal for the government of Pakistan for connection between Chabahar and Gwadar… We believe that Chabahar and Gwadar can complement each other,” Zarif was quoted as saying during a meeting with Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi as well as Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan.

“We can connect Chabahar and Gwadar, and then through that connect Gwadar to our entire railroad system, from Iran to the North Corridor, through Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan, and also through Azerbaijan, Russia, and through Turkey.”

Video: Iranian FM Zarif meets Pakistani PM Iram Khan in Islamabad on Friday (Caution: Original video is mute)

Iran, India and Afghanistan signed a trilateral transit agreement in Tehran in May 2016, which allows the three countries to open new routes of connection by converting Chabahar port into a transit hub.

The port in Chabahar, only about 100 kilometres from the Pakistan border and located on the Indian Ocean, is Iran’s largest outside the Persian Gulf.

It is also the only Iranian port with exemptions from economic sanctions re-imposed by the United States in 2018.

Before heading for the eastern neighbouring country, Zarif had a fly over in Chabahar to examine the advances made in the strategic port.

He toured the Shahid Beheshti port that is being developed and used by India under a 10-year lease in a bid to deliver Indian supplies and commodities to Afghanistan.

Iranian FM Zarif tours Chabahar Port on Thursday 23 May, 2019. IRNA

The Iranian official also visited steel and petrochemical factories in the region, located on the Sea of Oman coast.

Chabahar is the only Iranian port that gives the country an exit to the oceanic waters. That’s why Tehran has been increasingly trying to develop the area and attract foreign investment in a bid to turn it into a transit hub.

At the same time, Pakistan helped by China, is developing the Gwadar Port in the south-western Balochistan Province that shares border with Iran’s Sistan and Baluchistan Province.


During a conference in the Chabahar Port, Zarif stressed that Chabahar and Gwadar are “synergic ports” that don’t seek rivalry.

Video: Iranian FM Zarif stresses Chabahar, Gwadar are not rival ports 

Earlier in April, on the eve of Imran Khan’s maiden visit to Iran, Iran Chamber Newsroom explained in a report that Chabahar and Gwadar are “sister ports” rather than rivals in the region.

“Iran has never been trying to build the Chabahar Port, 76 nautical miles from Gwadar, in a bid to overshadow the Pakistani port. As Iranian President Hassan Rouhani inaugurated the first phase of the Chabahar port in 2017, Pakistan’s Minister for Ports and Shipping Hasil Khan Bizenjo was standing next to him,” the report argumented.

Pakistani Minister for Ports and Shipping, Hasil Bizenjo, second from right, stands next to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the inauguration ceremony of the Shahid Baheshti Port in Chabahar back in 2017. ISNA/Hamid Amlashi

Chabahar has already opened Afghanistan’s way to world waters when the first Afghan cargo consignment was sent to India through the port. India has already sent several cargoes to the land-locked country.

Video: First Afghan cargo convoy, destined for India, arrives at Chabahar Port

 



The Iranian foreign minister also met National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser in Islamabad where the two stressed on the importance of promoting bilateral relations between Pakistan and Iran.

Qaiser insisted that joint efforts were needed to eliminate terrorism from the region. He added that friendly relations with Iran were essential for the prosperity of the people of both countries, Pakistan Today reports.

Iranian FM Zarif meets Pakistanian Parliament Speaker Asad Qaiser in Islamabad on Friday, 24 May, 2019. IRAN FOREIGN MINISTRY

Zarif said that Iran values its “historic” relations with Pakistan, adding that both countries have a similar outlook over a number of issues. He further said the Tehran considered Islamabad as its “partner” in establishing peace in the region. He stressed on the need to promote economic trade relations.

Zarif, upon his arrival in Islamabad, told IRNA that Tehran seeks stronger ties with Islamabad and that “developing strong relations with our immediate neighbours is on the top of Iranian foreign policy”.

Zarif also held talks with Pakistani Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa to discuss border securtiy and anti-terrorism fight. 

Iranian FM Zarif meets Pakistan Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa in Islamabad. PAKISTAN TODAY 

Iran and Pakistan have been hard at work to coordinate effects against terrorism that has been causing headached for both countries. Iran shares 1,000 km of land border with the eastern neighbour and much of the current $1bn trade is carried out by land. 

More than 60,000 lorries and 300,000 passengers crossed the two countries frontiers last year, according to Reza Nafisi, Managing Director of International Transport and Transit Office at Iran’s Road Maintenance and Transport Organization (RMTO). 

A view of the Iranian-Pakistani border at Mirjaveh border crossing at Iran's Sistan and Baluchistan Province. TASNIN NEWS AGENCY, Vehid Ahmadi  

The first Iranian lorry entered the neighboring country under the TIR Convention-the Convention on International Transport of Goods Under Cover of TIR Carnets early this year.

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