Iran Invites Pakistan to Join Port Project Partially Funded by India

Join us, don't fight us: Iran invites Pakistan to be part of Chabahar project with India

Regional peace is dependent upon wider cooperation within West Asia: Pak Army Chief to Iran

Zarif said Iran had "made offers for dialogue" with the Saudis to try to bring stability to the region, but that if the kingdom wants to "engage in the politics of confrontation then it is a dead end". "However, we tell them (Saudis) that you can not provide security from outside of the region".

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In a development that is bound to raise concerns in the Indian strategic establishment, Iran's foreign minister Javad Zarif has reportedly declared that Tehran has offered Pakistan and China participation in its strategic Chabahar port, which is being co-developed with India.

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Iran and Saudi Arabia have been at odds since the conflict arose in Syria in 2011. After all, India was looking to the Iranian port for opening up a new gateway to landlocked Afghanistan, bypassing Pakistan. Iran's offer may also be seen as a move to placate Pakistan's deep misgivings over India's long-standing involvement in the Chabahar Port project. Meanwhile, the Iran nuclear deal ensures Tehran can't develop its own nuclear bomb. In November 2017, India delievered the first consignment of wheat to Afghanistan through the Chabahar Port. These caveats must be deliberated as the $62 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor approaches completion, with expansions already being explored such as between Gwadar and Chabahar. Sources said Indian diplomats and officials in Islamabad were being subjected to increased hostility, harassment and intimidation and this had been intimated to Pakistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The visiting Foreign Minister is being accompanied by a large trade delegation from Iran.

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Pakistan and Iran have had close ties in the past but recent regional alignments and Pakistan's tilt toward Saudi Arabia perturbed Iran, particularly the assignment of a Pakistani former army chief to head a Saudi-led 39-nation Islamic military coalition to combat terrorism. Zarif said the "terrorists" are still holding a border guard and asked Pakistan for assistance in retrieving him. He also said that the Chabahar port project was not meant to "encircle Pakistan ... strangulate anybody", adding that Iran would not allow anybody to hurt Pakistan from its territory, much like Pakistan would not allow its soil to be used against Iran. "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".

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