Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif on Monday invited Pakistan to join the Chabahar seaport project that India developed, and added that his country wants to participate in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, Dawn reported.

Zarif, who is on a three-day visit to Pakistan, made the comment during a lecture at the Institute of Strategic Studies in Islamabad. The lecture was organised to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Both the Chabahar project and the Gwadar port – which is an important link in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project – are crucial for the development of Eastern and South Eastern Iran, and South Western Pakistan, Zarif said. The Iranian minister called for linking the two projects. “We are taking measures to do that and there is an open invitation to Pakistan to participate in that.”

In an effort to allay Pakistan’s fears about Indian involvement in the Chabahar project, Zarif said it was not meant to “encircle Pakistan…strangulate anybody”. Iran would not allow anybody to use its territory to hurt Pakistan, he added. “Our relations with India, just like Pakistan’s relations with Saudi Arabia, are not against Pakistan as we understand Pakistan’s relations with Saudi Arabia are not against Iran.”

Earlier in the day, Zarif held bilateral talks with his Pakistani counterpart Khawaja Asif at the Pakistan Foreign Office. In a statement, the two sides reiterated their support for the peaceful struggle of Palestinians and Kashmiris for self determination. The delegations expressed concerns about the growing presence of the Islamic State jihadist group in Afghanistan, and spoke of the need for further cooperation against transnational terrorist groups.