Tehran: China has voiced interest in linking the Gwadar port in Pakistan which it is developing with the Chabahar port in Iran, according to a senior Iranian trade official.
Managing Director of Chabahar Free Zone Abdulrahim Kurdi said Chinese officials have applied for linking the two ports, Iran’s FARS news agency reported.
“The Iranian and Pakistani ports are not rivals and can cooperate,” FARS quoted Kurdi as saying.
Gwadar port, located 72 km from the Chabahar port, is part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project aimed at connecting the eastern regions of China to the warm waters of the Gulf of Oman, the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean.
Chabahar, as Iran’s sole oceanic port, is the shortest route for Afghanistan and Central Asian countries to have access to Indian Ocean. The port, on the mouth of the Straits of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf, provides India a land-sea access route into Afghanistan and Central Asia through the Bandar Abbas-Caspian Sea axis.
In recent weeks, Pakistan has also said that it is looking to forge connectivity between the two ports.
“Islamabad does not look at Chabahar as a competing port rather it is a complementary to Gwadar port of Pakistan,” Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal said on December 20 while addressing a conference on Pakistan-China-Iran: A Trident of Regional Connectivity, organized by Institute of Strategic Studies, in Islamabad.
“We are looking forward to develop strong cooperation between Iran and Pakistan through these two ports,” he said.
Also last month, the Pakistani foreign ministry said that Chabahar and Gwadar ports complement each other. “We do not consider Chabahar as move to bypass Pakistan,” Spokesman Muhammad Faisal said in a weekly news briefing in Islamabad.