Iranian Ambassador to Pakistan Mehdi Honardoost has said that the Chabahar Port would not turn out to be an enemy port to Gwadar but would serve as a ‘friend’ port.
He said Chabahar port agreement between Iran, India and Afghanistan is ‘not finished’ and ‘not limited to these three countries’.
Speaking on Pakistan-Iran relations at the Institute of Strategic Studies in Islamabad (ISSI), he revealed that the offer to cooperate had first been extended to Pakistan and then China, implying neither had expressed interest.
Ahmed Safee, a research fellow at the ISSI, quoted the Iranian envoy as saying that the deal is still on the table for both Pakistan and China, assuring that ‘Chabahar is not a rival to Gwadar’.
The ambassador added that both are sister ports, and Chabahar port authorities would extend cooperation to Gwadar.
“The deal is not finished. We are waiting for new members. Pakistan, our brotherly neighbours and China, a great partner of the Iranians and a good friend of Pakistan, are both welcome,” said the envoy.
“India was a good friend during the sanctions, the only country to import oil from us during sanctions.”
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Monday signed a three-way transit agreement on Iran’s southern port of Chabahar.
India signed the historic Chabahar deal with Iran and Afghanistan a couple of days ago. India is investing $500 million in the Chabahar Port to operate it. This would enable India to have a better trade route to Afghanistan, as opposed to the land route through Pakistan.
Experts and analysts have viewed this deal as a challenge on India’s part to China. Through the Chabahar deal, India will counter China’s growing influence in the region. China and Pakistan signed the historic CPEC deal last year.
The United States has given voice to its suspicion of Tehran but, nonetheless it has backed the Chabahar Port deal.