January 17, 2020 9:27:14 pm
Concluding his three-day visit to India Friday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif stated that the development of the Chabahar port will require India and Iran to work together in order to expedite projects like rail connectivity to Afghanistan.
“Chabahar Port is essential for Afghanistan and Central Asia. There are several problems and we made several advances on them. One of them is that our Parliament has recently approved the expansion of the free zone,” Zarif was quoted as saying by PTI.
Chabahar, which is located 72 kilometers west of Pakistan’s Gwadar port, holds immense strategic and economic significance for India.
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Zarif also remarked upon the importance of completing the Chabahar-Zahedan rail network, which will connect the port to far off mainland areas like Afghanistan and Central Asia.
“The other issue is connecting Chabahar to Afghanistan and to Central Asia through rail. We need to complete the Chabahar-Zahedan rail network. We have the infrastructure for that, but we need rails. We are in negotiation with India for providing rails. We produce our own rails but not at the scale we need. So, Iran and India need to work together on procurement of equipment for the port as well as finishing the rail link,” he added.
Zarif on US-Iran tensions
Talking about the ongoing hostility between the United States and Iran, Zarif stated that India happens to be a country that has amiable relations with both the countries and has the potential to act as a mediator to bring both sides to a negotiating table.
US has imposed sanctions on the Islamic Republic for the development of Chabahar port in November 2018, but has exempted India from its sanctions offensive through CAATSA (Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act). However, the European and Chinese suppliers who had got contracts to supply equipment for the port have been reluctant to deliver, fearing the adverse impact on their business with the US.
Zarif underlined that the biggest problem in the progress of the project is that India has found difficulty in procuring the necessary equipment for the port despite the exemption.
The minister highlighted that although Iran was not interested in renegotiations with the US, it would be open to dialogue if India wants to work in preventing the unrest and bringing the US back to the negotiating table.
“India is a dear friend of Iran and has good relations with the US, so it can get the latter to come back to the negotiations. But the most important priority for Iran is to have good relations with neighbours, stability in neighbourhood and attract more investments in the country. We want to take a leading role in peace building,” Zarif was quoted as saying.
The Chabahar Port complex, backed by India, on Iran’s coast along the Gulf of Oman is being developed to provide an alternative trade route between India and Afghanistan.
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