Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says the recent incident where a ship blocked the Suez Canal for almost a week highlighted the need for a reliable transit route and the corridor being developed by Iran, Russia and India is best suited to serve that goal.
The International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC), proposed by the three countries in 2000 and later supported by 10 Central Asian nations, is connecting the Persian Gulf and India with Russia via Iran.
“We hope that the North-South ITC will eventually serve as the basis for the creation of a single seamless transport, logistics, and economic space stretching from the southern coasts of Iran to northern cities of Russia,” Lavrov told IRNA news agency in Tehran.
“Addressing such a task appears especially relevant at the moment when the recent incident with the blocking of the Suez Canal has highlighted the need for reliable land transport routes,” he added.
The INSTC project envisions a 7,200 km-long multi-mode network of ship, rail and road for freight transport, aiming to cut carriage costs by about 30%-60% and transit time from 40 days to about 20 days.
“The North–South International Transport Corridor is a good example of multilateral collaboration. It is the key infrastructure project in the region designed to promote mutually beneficial interaction between multiple states,” Lavrov said.
Iran and Russia, he said, “play a leading role in the implementation of this initiative, as most part of the land route runs through their territories”.
Lavrov said sustainable increase in trade and economic cooperation largely depends on the developed logistics network and building modern road infrastructure is of special importance in this regard.
“The Russian government has approved and launched relevant plans and programs, including for the Caspian Sea region. We know that Tehran also devotes special attention to this issue,” he said.
“We expect that our Iranian partners will successfully finish the construction of the approaches to the Caspian port [of Bandar Anzali] and the railway to Azerbaijan. This will substantially boost the competitiveness of the North–South ITC and its attractiveness for shippers.”
New Delhi has proposed that Chabahar, which it is developing, be included in the North-South ITC. Indian officials expect to start full-scale operations at the two terminals they are developing by the end of May.