Chabahar port deal 'not finished', open to Pakistan, China: Iran

The trilateral agreement between Iran, India and Afghanistan on the strategic Chabahar port is "not finished" yet and is open to countries like Pakistan and China, media reports quoted Iranian envoy in Pakistan as saying.

The Chabahar port agreement between Iran, India and Afghanistan is "not finished" and "not limited to these three countries", Iranian ambassador to Pakistan Mehdi Honerdoost is reported to have said on Friday.

Iran had first extended the offer to cooperate to Pakistan and then to China, he said while speaking on Pakistan-Iran relations at the Institute of Strategic Studies in Islamabad (ISSI), Dawn newspaper reported.

The envoy also conveyed the idea that Chabahar is not being developed as a counter to Gwadar – stating both are sister ports, and that Chabahar port authorities would extend cooperation to Gwadar.

"The deal is not finished. We are waiting for new members. Pakistan, our brotherly neighbours and China, a great partner of the Iranians and a good friend of Pakistan, are both welcome. India was a good friend during the sanctions - the only country to import oil from us during sanctions," Honerdoost said.

"Chabahar is not a rival to Gwadar", Ahmed Saffee, a research fellow at the ISSI, quoted the Iranian envoy as saying. While Gwadar will be exclusively used by China and Pakistan, Chabahar is open to other countries as well.

India is only constructing two terminals and related infrastructure for trade with Afghanistan and other countries, while the port area is open to further development.

India on Monday signed a "milestone" agreement with Iran and Afghanistan to gain access to the strategic Chabahar port in southern Iran, which will give India access to Afghanistan and Europe bypassing Pakistan.

Chabahar port, located in the Sistan-Balochistan Province on the energy-rich southern coast of Iran, lies outside the Persian Gulf and is easily accessed from India's western coast, bypassing Pakistan.