Iran offers Pakistan, China participation in India's strategic Chabahar port project

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Sources privy to Pakistan High Commission in India, the issue was raised with Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and demanded the government to keep a check on security agencies' authorities.

Tehran had also expressed willingness to improve ties with Saudi Arabia when Pakistan's former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif visited Iran during the Yemen crisis, but the Kingdom's response was not warm, according to Mohammad Javad Zarif.

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"We have also offered Pakistan and China to participate in Chahbahar", Zarif said while delivering a lecture at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) that had been held to commemorate 70th anniversary of establishment of Pak-Iran diplomatic relations. Iran's handing of the port's operational control to India was disappointing for Pakistan and taking part in Chabahar may engender problems moving forward.

Zarif sought to allay Pakistan's concerns about India's involvement in Chabahar by saying that the port project was not meant to "encircle Pakistan" or "strangulate anybody". Pakistan must be cognisant that Iran's offering may be a political move to placate matters resulting from its decision to work with India. To underline this, he pointed to Pakistan's relations with Saudi Arabia, Iran's single major foreign policy irritant in its neighbourhood. During his meeting with Janjua on Tuesday, Zarif talked about "tapping into the potential of Gwadar and Chabahar ports" to boost economic cooperation, according to a statement from Iran's foreign ministry. The Iranian minister also, meanwhile, extended the invitation to China. The first phase of the Chabahar port in south-east Iran, which India is developing, was inaugurated in December a year ago.

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India, Iran and Afghanistan signed a trilateral agreement in 2016 to jointly develop the Chabahar port, opening a new strategic transit route between the three nations and other Central Asian nations, bypassing Pakistan.

Singh was summoned after Pakistani newspaper Dawn quoted Pakistani officials of accusing India of harassing its diplomats and their families in the country and threatened to pull out the families if the intimidation did not stop. The visiting Foreign Minister is being accompanied by a large trade delegation from Iran.

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