Iran ready to connect Gwadar port with Chabahar


–Pakistani officials tells Iranian FM to avoid conflict with US

–Javad Zarif says Tehran shares Islamabad’s vision for regional peace

–Gen Bajwa tells Iranian official war is not in anyone’s interest



ISLAMABAD: Iran has said that it is ready to connect Pakistan’s Gwadar port with Chabahar port to promote trade and commerce in the region.

The proposal was put forward by Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, who met Pakistan’s civil-military leadership in Islamabad on Friday.

“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.

“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.”

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 Gulf.

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

Meanwhile, Pakistan urged both Tehran and the United States to refrain from escalating the conflict.

Zarif, who landed in Islamabad late Thursday night, held separate meetings with Prime Minister Imran Khan, Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi.

Zarif and PM Imran talked about bilateral relations between Iran and Pakistan in a meeting that was also attended by Qureshi.

The purpose of Zarif’s visit to Pakistan was not made public, says Associated Press, reporting that there has been speculation that Iran is looking to Islamabad and its close relationship with Riyadh to help de-escalate the situation.

Ahead of Zarif’s arrival, Pakistan’s foreign ministry called on “all sides to show restraint, as any miscalculated move, can transmute into a large-scale conflict.”

In his meeting with Gen Bajwa at General Headquarters, matters of mutual interest and evolving situation in the region were discussed during the meeting.

The army chief said that war was not in anyone’s interest and that all sides need to make efforts to keep conflict away from the region, said a statement issued by the military’s media wing.

During the delegation-level talks held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Qureshi assured the Iranian counterpart about Pakistan’s reconciliatory efforts for ensuring peace in the region.

He further said that dialogue is the only way to resolve the disputes as conflict will not benefit either side. Pointing towards the surging tension between Iran and the US, he reiterated that all stakeholders need to showcase tolerance as regional tension was in no one’s interest.

He stated that Pakistan wants resolution of all outstanding issues through diplomatic engagement and said that stakeholders need to demonstrate patience and tolerance.

Zarif assured Qureshi that Iran “gives value” to Islamabad’s efforts to establish peace in the region.

Both sides expressed satisfaction over the implementation of decisions made during Prime Minister Imran’s recent visit to Iran and agreed to continue cooperation on bilateral matters.

The Iranian foreign minister also met National Assembly Speaker Qaiser 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.

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”.

He also lashed out at US President Donald Trump for his tweet earlier this week warning Iran not to threaten the US again or it would face its “official end”.

“Iran will see the end of Trump, but he will never see the end of Iran,” Zarif was quoted by Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency as saying as he landed in Pakistan.

Tensions have ratcheted up recently in the Mideast as the White House earlier this month sent an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the region over a still-unexplained threat it perceived from Iran.

And on Thursday, the Pentagon outlined proposals to the White House to send military reinforcements to the Middle East to beef up defences against Iran.