Iran rejects sectarianism as the basis of its foreign policy and believes in Muslim unity worldwide. This was said by Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Dr Kazem Sajjadpour, while giving a public talk on “Iran and its Surroundings”, at the Institute of Strategic Studies,  here on Wednesday.

He rejected the notion that sectarian schism was the major stumbling block in Iran-Saudi relations.

Sajjadpour who is head of a Tehran-based think tank Institute for Political and International Studies, Centre for International Research and Education, said that his country and its surroundings was the most complex region in the world, which was facing many challenges including security and civil wars.

He said Iran was not dependent on others for its security and decision-making, which were also the important factors for its foreign policy.

Sajjadpour added that there were previously three strategic political players in the Middle East — Iraq, Syria and Egypt. However, he added, they were now playing no role beyond their geographical borders and engaged in their internal affairs.

He noted that at present Saudi Arabia was playing the role of a sole political player in the Arab world and was active beyond its borders.

He said Saudi Arabia played its role as an angry actor in the regional developments.

Sajjadpour said that neighbouring countries were its priority.

He said there was a consensus in Iran that security could  only be achieved through cooperation with neighbours.

He said, “Iran by no way looks for rivalry and competition on sectarian basis with any other country.

“You cannot find a single statement by Iran which shows that it supports sectarian policy,” asserted the diplomat.

He expressed displeasure over Saudi Arabia’s growing relations with Israel, asserting that aligning with Zionists was not “digestible” to the Muslim world in view of the latter’s 60-year-long oppression of Palestinians.

Sajjadpour said Iran’s relations with Pakistan were based on a “solid foundation” and appreciated Pakistan’s support for Iran’s security concerns.

“We condemn any inhuman behaviour, anywhere in the world,” he said, while replying to question on Iran’s position on plight of Kashmiris in Indian-held Kashmir (IHK).

On Iran’s close ties with India and its impact on Pakistan, he said Iran-Pakistan relationship was “independent of other factors”.

Iranian Ambassador Mehdi Honardoost speaking on Pak-Iran ties said there was an immense improvement in terms of materialisation of development projects.

He mentioned that Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline, power transmission line and cooperation between the business chambers of the two countries were significant projects.

Honordoost stressed that bilateral trade deserved more attention.

ISSI Board of Governors Chairperson Khalid Mehmood said “The new ports of Chabahar and Gwadar should not be viewed as competitors, but should instead be seen as complementing projects.” He stressed not to let foreign powers influence the relationship between Pakistan and Iran.