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Iran sees CPEC as project with great potential: envoy

Updated December 09, 2017

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Iranian Ambassador Mehdi Honardoost addresses a press conference at the Karachi Press Club on Friday.—INP
Iranian Ambassador Mehdi Honardoost addresses a press conference at the Karachi Press Club on Friday.—INP

KARACHI: Iran reiterated its interest in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) when its Ambassador to Pakistan Mehdi Honardoost on Friday called the corridor “a project with great potential” and urged other countries in the region to join it and bolster regional cooperation.

“You see, such kinds of project always bring great opportunities,” he told reporters at the Karachi Press Club. “In order to capitalise on those opportunities and strengthen cooperation in the region, other countries should participate in it [CPEC] as well. We strongly hope that this project would bring peace and prosperity to the region.”

However, the Iranian envoy did not miss the opportunity to highlight the significance of the newly-inaugurated Chaba­har port in his country and invited the Pakistani businessmen to “utilise” the facility which would open new venues of Pakistani investment in the neighbouring country.

Iran, earlier this month, opened its port of Chabahar as one of the major post-nuclear deal projects in its Sistan-Baluchestan province at a ceremony which was attended by officials from 17 countries, including Pakistan.

Pakistani businessmen invited to utilise Chabahar port

The Chabahar port’s development was accelerated after Iran signed the nuclear pact with the US and five other major powers in 2015 to put curbs on its nuclear programme in exchange for relief from economic sanctions.

Earlier, Mr Honardoost visited the Governor House where he met Sindh Governor Mohammed Zubair along with Iranian consul general Ahmad Muhammadi.

During the meeting, the two dignitaries exchanged views on Pakistan-Iran trade, investment opportunities in Sindh, Iran’s cooperation in the social sector, Pakistan’s key role in war against terrorism and other issues of mutual interest.

“Governor Zubair invited Iranian entrepreneurs to make investment in CPEC, particularly in Karachi, for which the government will provide assistance,” a statement issued by the Governor House said.

“Iranian ambassador Mr Honardoost was of the view that not only the rulers of the two countries but their people are also keen for further promotion of Iran-Pak relations,” the statement added.

Meanwhile, the Iranian envoy also addressed industrialists and the business community over a luncheon meeting at the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

On the occasion, he said that lack of information about the capabilities of Iran and Pakistan in the business communities of the two neighbouring countries was hindering the promotion of bilateral trade.

“But the situation has been improving as Pakistan-Iran trade volume rose by 31 per cent last year,” he said, adding that the two countries have to focus on exchange of information and trade delegations and other promotional activities.

Mr Honardoost said that Iran was keen to develop its ties with Pakistan by focusing on enhancing trade which continued to grow each year.

Exporting electricity to Pakistan, implementing Iran-Pakistan Gas Pipeline, signing of free-trade agreement and commencement of banking transactions between the two brotherly countries reflected this approach, he added.

Published in Dawn, December 9th, 2017