Iran wants early completion of Chabahar port project: Zarif

New Delhi: Seeking deepening of bilateral ties with India, Iran on Thursday pitched for early completion of the strategically important Chabahar port project, saying it would provide access to energy-rich Central Asia and Afghanistan and help economies of the region.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, on a two-day visit here, said the issue will figure in his talks tomorrow with External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid.

“Chabahar and a corridor, both rail and road from Chabahar to Afghanistan and Central Asia, is a project we are working together with India. I hope that in this trip we can take practical steps (to implement the project),” Zarif told reporters.

Aspects like investment and construction of roads to link the port are expected to figure in the talks.

India’s interest in the Iranian port is not only to get a direct access to Central Asia but also to facilitate import of minerals from Afghanistan.

Chabahar Port is located 72 kilometers West of Pakistan’s Gwadar port and is situated at a strategic location.

Zarif said there will be security benefit from the port project as it has potential to spur economic growth in the region affected by terrorism, drug trafficking and illegal trade.

“This region is suffering from a war economy, drug economy and from illegal trade economy. If we can provide an alternative economy, then we can deal with the problems like terrorism,” he said.

The Iranian Foreign Minister said both India and Iran should work together to ensure stability and overall growth of the region.

“There is a whole range of economic projects that we can work together on. There are transportation projects, energy projects. There are lot of areas that we can work together in that will benefit both the countries and ensure peace and security in the region,” said Zarif.

On the interim agreement to curb its nuclear programme, the Iranian Foreign Minister said his country was looking for a final deal and lifting of all sanctions.

Asserting that Iran’s nuclear programme will continue, he said the country will put in place measures to allay any apprehension of the international community.

“I can tell you Iran’s nuclear programme will remain in tact and we will not close any programme,” he said adding it will make sure that there is “true transparency” in its programme.

He said the country was looking at achieving a final deal soon.

“We are not going to be in transition,” he said adding the country wants to reach a final agreement. “Those who will not try and show the political will to reach the agreement will have to explain and bear the blame.”

He said the immediate deadline for the deal was July 20.

“We can agree to extend that but that requires another agreement. We have another deadline and that is January 20, 2015. Because based on the agreement, we have a year to reach a final deal and start implementing the final deal. I am hoping that by the first deadline we will reach the final deal,” he said.

Zarif said Iran will not come under any pressure and would like to see expression of respect from Western powers towards its people.

“I do not think respect can coincide with threats. Not only threats are not useful, they are counter productive. Iranians react very strongly to threats and intimidation. The language of respect must prevail. The language of coperation, agreement, mutual understanding and not a language of imposition and intimidation and threat will be useful in dealing with Iran,” he said.

Asked whether the cou7ntry will reduce centrifuges, he only said Iran was willing to address concerns of the international community.

“We all are prepared to make sure that the programme is exclusively peaceful. I think there are multiple ways of doing that,” he said.
By Zee News


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