Iran FM Javad Zarif says Tehran ready to resolve differences with Saudis

Erika Holt
March 15, 2018

Iran has always been concerned about the infiltration of militants from the Pakistani side of the border, and just a day before Zarif's trip the Iranian Revolutionary Guards killed two suicide bombers near the border. The port is a crucial part of India's plans to create a transport and trade corridor to landlocked Afghanistan bypassing Pakistan.

India is set to start operations in this part of Chabahar with borrowed Iranian equipment by May-end. Pakistan's concern about increasing Indian involvement in Chabahar was amplified after India, Iran, and Afghanistan signed a trilateral agreement in 2016 to jointly develop the port of Chabahar.

However, sources in New Delhi said India has repeatedly requested Pakistan to mutually ensure that High Commissions are allowed to do their job in an atmosphere free of harassment and intimidation, that staff be allowed to work and that construction projects get completed on time. If confirmed, Iran's offer to Pakistan and China would undercut India's strategic stakes in Chabahar.

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, "There is no reason for hostility between Iran and Saudi Arabia".

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Pakistan has summoned India's Deputy High Commissioner J P Singh over the alleged harassment of officials and families of the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi, according to Pakistan Foreign Affairs Ministry.

Zarif also raised the issue of cooperation between the Chabahar and Gwadar ports during his meetings with foreign minister Asif and National Security Adviser Nasser Janjua.

Rouhani noted that the history and culture of Iran and Azerbaijan are interconnected and efforts should be made for the two countries to have "unbreakable ties" in political, economic and social spheres. It was also seen as key to shoring up India's access to energy-rich Central Asian Republics.

"We are taking measures to do that and there is an open invitation to Pakistan to participate in that", he added. These were regions where it had become unviable for India to interact with since most connectivity options ran through Pakistan, with whom India has perpetually strained relations. After years of trying to make the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline a reality, Iran and India had given up on Pakistan.

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