New Delhi: In an unprecedented but expected statement from Tehran, the Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif Friday said the Chabahar Port is neither against the Chinese nor against Pakistan’s Gwadar Port.
“We have made very clear to our Indian, Chinese friends that Chabahar is open for cooperation for everybody. Chabahar is not against China… is not against Gwadar. Chabahar is a place where we can all come together in order to help Afghanistan, help development and prosperity in the region,” Zarif said in his address at the Raisina Dialogue 2021.
Pakistan’s Gwadar Port is a Chinese-funded deep sea port that is located 172 km east of Chabahar. They are often referred to as ‘sister ports’.
Zarif said that while India is trying to play an active role in Chabahar, so are the Chinese.
The Chabahar project will move since India, Pakistan, China and Iran all have a “shared interest” in Afghanistan, he added.
“If we provide Afghanistan transit opportunities through Chabahar, through elsewhere, through international markets… the unofficial economy will go away. That economy gives rise to drug trafficking, human trafficking, to terrorism, to violence and we need to put that aside,” he said.
India has been involved in the development of Chabahar Port in the south-eastern coast of Iran for decades now in an effort to carry out trade with Afghanistan seamlessly, bypassing Pakistan.
Zarif’s comments came within a month of Tehran and Beijing signing a massive $400-billion pact. The agreement was signed between Zarif and Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Iran in March.
Under this deal, China plans to invest substantially in Iran’s banking, telecommunications, railways, ports, IT and healthcare for the next 25 years.