Iranian President Hassan Rowhani said on Sunday that Middle Eastern countries should solve their problems together without relying on external powers.
He made the comments during the inauguration ceremony of the first phase of Chahbahar Port – a three-way transit accord between New Delhi, Tehran and Kabul that will provide greater access for Afghan goods to the Indian market.
Located in southern province of Sistan, the launch of Phase I Shahaid Beheshti FTZ Port was attended by at least 60 representatives from 17 countries including India and Afghanistan, Iran’s Islamic Republic News Agency reported.
President Rowhani said the goods will transported through the India-funded port to neighbouring countries in a much shorter span of time within reasonable cost.
“Afghanistan and countries to the north of India including Central Asia will now be linked to the south and ocean,” he said. He explained that the port held political importance as it will connect the country to European countries in future.
“We believe that if there is a problem in the region, it can be solved through dialogue,” said Rowhani in a follow up to an escalation in the bitter rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia. “We do not need arms nor the intervention of foreign powers. We can solve our problems ourselves through unity and dialogue.”
The two powers back opposing groups throughout the region – notably in Syria and Yemen – and Saudi leaders have lately stepped up efforts to counter Iran’s growing influence, raising fears of further conflict.
But Rowhani said recent victories against the Islamic State group opened the way for the Middle East to move past its reputation for “war and conflict between Shia and Sunni… and the presence and interventions of foreign powers”.
Tehran and Riyadh’s critics in the West have accused Iran of seeking to dominate the region at the expense of its neighbours.
Rowhani said: “No country can claim to be the superior power in this region. Just as the superpowers couldn’t accomplish that either.”