TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Days after Iran invited China and Pakistan to participate in the development of its strategic Chabahar port, India said it was the prerogative of the Iranian government to choose its partners for the project.
"It is the prerogative of the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to choose its partners for the development of infrastructure facilities there," Indian External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said during a media briefing, The Times of India reported.
During a three-day visit to Islamabad, Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif invited Pakistan and China to participate in the strategic Chabahar Port project, saying it is not aimed at "strangulating" or "encircling" anybody.
The first phase of the Chabahar port on the Gulf of Oman was inaugurated four months ago, opening a new strategic route connecting Iran, India and Afghanistan bypassing Pakistan.
India has been a key partner in the development of the port, which is easily accessible from India's western coast and is increasingly seen as a counter to Pakistan's Gwadar Port, being developed with Chinese investment, the report said.
"As you are aware, India is supporting the development of Chahbahar Port as a robust and alternate access route to and for Afghanistan and Central Asia," said Kumar, adding significant progress has been made in operationalizing the port.
In November last year, India delivered the first consignment of wheat to Afghanistan through the Chabahar Port.
"Shipment of wheat assistance to Afghanistan through Chahbahar is being successfully carried out since October last year. Four such shipments have been successfully delivered," said Kumar.
He said India's assistance for building Chabahar-Zahedan Railway to realize the full potential of the port and to connect it to Afghanistan and Central Asia was discussed during Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's visit to New Delhi last month.
"We continue to work with Iran on the full and effective operationalization of the Chabahar Port," said Kumar.
Iran, India, and Afghanistan signed a trilateral agreement in 2016 to jointly develop the Chabahar port