0930 GMT October 21, 2018
Iran's cooperation with India in developing Chabahar Port in southeast Iran will not harm Tehran's close and brotherly relations with Islamabad, said the assistant to Iran's foreign minister for West Asia affairs.
Pakistan also has relations with many other countries which are not an obstacle to its expanded ties with Iran, Rasoul Eslami told Iran Daily on the sidelines of a visit by Iran's Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammad Javad Zarif to Pakistan.
Eslami pointed to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's recent statement that the inauguration of Chabahar Port implies greater regional cooperation and is in the interest of all regional countries.
Pakistani companies are welcome to conduct activities in Chabahar Port, he added,noting that a number of Pakistani firms are currently present and active in the Iranian port.
Iran has even proposed other states interested in establishing closer connection and promoting greater transit interaction among regional countries to come and cooperate, Eslami underlined, adding, "We have invited, are inviting and will invite all countries to work towards these goals.
"After inaugurating Chabahar, we proposed Pakistan to establish road and rail connections between the Iranian port and its Pakistani counterpart, Gwadar, which was very well welcomed by Pakistani officials. Even an agreement has been reached with the country to this end during President Rouhani's visit to Islamabad in 2017."
Turning to Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline, he said Pakistan says it has currently no budget to implement the project in its territory, maintaining that Western sanctions on Iran are the main obstacle to this end as they prevent other countries from investing in this joint venture.
Iran has already completed the construction of the 2,775-kilometer pipeline in its territory. "We plan to reach an agreement on the issue with Pakistani officials during this trip."
He added China and Russia can help Pakistan implement its own share of the project.
Commenting on ties between the two countries, he said neighbors normally should have expanded relations in different areas, which is the case with Iran and Pakistan.
The two countries have about 1,000 kilometers of common border and have developed relations in political, economic, cultural, educational, border related and security fields.
He called for urged more frequent high-level exchanges between the two states.
Eslami noted that in 2017, Rouhani visited Pakistan twice, adding Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi also paid two separate visits to Tehran a year before that, in one of which he discussed expansion of regional cooperation and promoting peace in the Middle East.
"Given the number of exchanges between Iran and Pakistan, it is natural for the two states to have such a close relationship. A few months ago, Pakistani Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif traveled to Iran and, in a meeting with Zarif, discussed a number of political and economic issues as well as those pertaining to regional cooperation."
On the goals pursued during Zarif's visit to Pakistan, he said this trip, in which political, economic, border related, cultural, banking and trade issues as well as regional cooperation will be discussed, is in response to the Pakistani minister's trip to Iran, he said.
On this visit, Eslami added, Zarif is being accompanied by a significant number of Iranian traders who attended a business forum in Islamabad on Monday and are scheduled to hold a meeting with the Pakistani counterparts in Karachi, which is the economic center of Pakistan, today.
On the move by the Iranian Foreign Ministry to establish an economic directorate, he said it has been decided a delegation of Iranian traders should accompany Zarif in most of his visits to other countries.