After meeting with Pakistan Admiral Zadar Mahmood Abbasi, Iran’s Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi has called for the two countries to boost their naval ties, inviting Pakistan to participate in joint maritime security exercise.
According to Tasnim News Agency, Khanzad said that Pakistan had played a “constructive role in collective cooperation” among the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) members, of which Iran held the last summit.
Khanzadi said that Iran was ready to send warships to Pakistani ports for friendly visits, adding that both nations have great potential for growth in the shipping industry with strategic ports like Gwadar and Chabahar.
The Gwadar Port, funded by China, has been a point of concern for India, which sees it as a way for China to extend its maritime reach in the region. The port is an important part of China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative to build a new trade route across Asia and Europe.
Likewise, the Chabahar Port, with Indian funding, has been viewed with concern by Pakistan over its potential use as a counter to Gwadar Port. India hopes to turn the port into a trilateral trade hub for India, Iran and Afghanistan. However, of late, Pakistan has been interested in linking the port with Gwadar, after India adhered to US sanctions on Iran that led to a halt on buying crude oil from Iran.
Khanzadi urged against attempts to create division among regional nations, “stressing that the region would be much safer without the presence of foreign forces” according to Tasnim.
Abbasi highlighted the cultural and religious links between Iran and Pakistan, saying that a maritime corridor linking China to Pakistan provides a perfect economic opportunity for the region and for Iran’s ports.
Iran and Pakistan have held joint naval drills in the past, in both the Indian Ocean and Straits of Hormuz.