Iran backs pipeline to China under ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative: ambassador

Extending delivery through Pakistan to the mainland under 'One Belt, One Road' initiative 'will help regional development'

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 23 April, 2015, 5:08pm
UPDATED : Monday, 27 April, 2015, 1:22pm

Iran is seeking to extend its energy delivery network to China under Beijing's massive "One Belt, One Road" push to boost regional connectivity, Tehran's envoy has said.

Ali Asghar Khaji, Iran's ambassador to China, said Iran would expand its railways, roads, ports, telecoms sector and energy security under a five-year development plan. "Setting up an extended network of energy pipelines would help regional security and development," he told the South China Morning Post.

Iran says it has already built a natural gas pipeline to its border with Pakistan, which previously balked at constructing a link on its side amid threats of sanctions from Washington. But Islamabad was now seeking Chinese funding to build its portion, The Wall Street Journal reported this month. The deal comes amid a push to build an economic corridor between Pakistan's port city of Gwadar and western China's Xinjiang region.

"I don't think it's too far away [for] this pipeline to be extended to China through Pakistan. That is something that would be of common interest to Iran, China and Pakistan," Khaji said.

He also said the "One Belt, One Road" initiative could support the construction of a natural gas pipeline from Iran, Iraq and Syria to Europe - a project that observers say is in doubt because of the Syrian civil war and financial sanctions on Syria and Iran.

Khaji's remarks came as President Xi Jinping told Iranian President Hassan Rowhani on the sidelines of the Asian-African Conference in Jakarta, Indonesia, that China would push for a "fair and balanced" nuclear agreement on Iran, and called for cooperation between the two nations on high-speed railways and telecommunications, state-run Xinhua reported.

Khaji also said developing nations would be given a prominent role in the governance of the Beijing-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), and rebuked existing international financing institutions for failing to serve their needs. Chief negotiators of the bank's founding members will meet in Beijing next week to discuss its charter and distribution of voting rights.

Iran is among the 57 founding members of the AIIB, which Beijing says is not a replacement of existing international financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund.

But Washington has expressed scepticism about how the bank will be managed. Beijing insists international norms will be followed, especially given the participation of Western nations including Britain and Germany.

Khaji criticised the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, saying they had failed to implement structural reforms to meet the needs of developing nations. Pre-conditions were often imposed before loans were given.

"They base the offering of their loans on the performance of economic reforms, and such conditions have actually made the economic conditions of those countries even worse," he said.

"We certainly should consider the views of emerging nations involved in this new bank, even though they may not be great economic powers. They should be given greater influence in terms of voting rights."