Iran has invited Pakistan and China to participate in the strategic Chabahar Port and said the initiative is not aimed at “strangulating” or “encircling” anybody, a media report today quoted visiting Iranian Foreign Minister as saying. India, Iran and Afghanistan had signed a trilateral agreement in 2016 to jointly develop the Chabahar port, opening a new strategic transit route between the three nations and other Central Asian nations, bypassing Pakistan.
In November last year, India delivered the first consignment of wheat to Afghanistan through the Chabahar Port. Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, who is on a three-day visit to Islamabad, said the Chabahar port project was not meant to “encircle Pakistan … strangulate anybody”. Iran would not allow anybody to hurt Pakistan from its territory, much like Pakistan would not allow its soil to be used against Iran, he said, while delivering a lecture at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) yesterday, according to Dawn newspaper.
“We are taking measures to do that and there is an open invitation to Pakistan to participate in that,” he said. Zarif likened Iran’s relations with India to Pakistan’s ties with Saudi Arabia. “Our relations with India, just like Pakistan’s relations with Saudi Arabia, are not against Islamabad as we understand Pakistan’s relations with Saudi Arabia are not against Iran,” the Iranian foreign minister said.
He said Iran has also extended invitation to China to join the Chahbahar project. “We offered to participate in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. We have also offered Pakistan and China to participate in Chahbahar,” said Zarif. He also said that Gwadar Port and Chabahar Port needed to be linked through sea and land routes for development of deprived Eastern and South-eastern Iran and South Western Pakistan.