In an exclusive interview with IRNA in Islamabad on Tuesday, Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi said he had traveled to Pakistan upon an official invitation, which followed a trip by Chief of Pakistani Naval Staff Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi to Tehran in April for the 6th Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) Conclave of Chiefs (CoC), Press TV reported.
“Our main approach is to broaden cooperation between Iran and Pakistan at sea and we are pursuing it seriously in various operational, technical and educational areas besides information exchanges,” he added.
The commander also noted that the Pakistani side had invited Iran’s Navy to take part in an international drill in Amman scheduled for the next few months.
He also hailed his talks with Pakistani officials as “important and constructive,” saying the two sides had also discussed using the capacities of Chabahar and Gwadar ports.
‘Iran’s security cannot be challenged’
Elsewhere in his remarks, Khanzadi stressed that no country is able to make a dent in Iran’s security, which he described as a “domestic achievement.”
“Such robust security alongside our neighboring states, including our eastern neighbor Pakistan, can certainly provide good synergy and convergence needed to achieve collective security, especially at sea,” he said.
He also blasted certain Western countries and arrogant powers for setting up “theatrical coalitions” under the pretext of ensuring security in the Strait of Hormuz, saying such alliances are actually meant to consolidate the West’s “illegitimate presence” in the region and would only bring about insecurity.
Those outsiders not only failed to form such alliances, but are also gradually withdrawing from the region, he added.
“I spoke with my Pakistani counterpart in this regard and said that the region needs no foreign forces,” Khanzadi said. “The Pakistani side shares Iran’s position.”
The commander also underlined the need for regional countries’ “coordination and cooperation” to safeguard the region.
The navy commander had a meeting with his Pakistani counterpart on Monday, during which he invited Pakistan to take part in a joint maritime security exercise, and expressed his country’s readiness to dispatch naval fleets to Pakistani ports, Tasnim News Agency reported.
Pointing to Iran’s presidency of the IONS, Khanzadi said Pakistan has played a constructive role in collective cooperation among the symposium members.
He added that Iran is looking forward to the Pakistani Navy’s participation in a joint maritime security exercise.
Khanzadi said the two nations have great potential for growth in the shipping industry with their strategic ports, such as the Gwadar Port and Chabahar.
The Iranian commander also warned against hostile attempts to create division among regional nations, stressing that the region would be much safer without the presence of foreign forces.
The Pakistani admiral highlighted the cultural and religious commonalities between the two neighbors, saying that a maritime corridor that links China to Pakistan provides a perfect economic opportunity for the region and for Iran’s ports.
Iranian and Pakistani naval forces have in recent years promoted cooperation and staged several joint drills in the Indian Ocean and the Sea of Oman.
Regional tensions have intensified after attacks earlier this year on oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf, and a strike on Saudi oil facilities. The United States has blamed Iran for the incidents. Iran has denied the allegations, saying it attaches high significance to the security of the strategic region.
The United States has been trying to persuade its allies into joining an international coalition with the declared aim of providing “security” for merchant shipping in the Strait of Hormuz — through which about a fifth of all oil consumed globally passes — and other strategic Middle Eastern shipping lanes.
Meanwhile, France has separately pushed for a European security alternative in the Strait of Hormuz.