Iran looks to join China on canal
IRANIAN firms want to participate in the construction of a massive canal across Nicaragua that a Chinese company has vowed to build, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif said.
Representatives of private Iranian construction companies accompanying Mr Zarif on a visit to Nicaragua’s capital discussed the possibility of getting a slice of the US$50 billion project, the minister told a news conference in Managua.
The ambitious plan calls for a waterway linking the Pacific and Atlantic oceans that would rival the century-old one in Panama, which has recently been expanded to take bigger ships.
Yet work on Nicaragua’s canal, meant to have started two years ago, has not begun. HKND, the Chinese group tasked with the massive undertaking, now says it should start at the end of this year.
Iran has enjoyed good relations with Nicaragua, one of the poorest states in the Americas, and particularly its leftwing president, former rebel Daniel Ortega, who returned to power in 2007.
Both countries share an antipathy toward the United States.
Mr Zarif made Nicaragua the second stop of a Latin American tour that began on August 22 in Cuba and which was to include Ecuador, Venezuela, Bolivia and Chile.
Nicaragua’s government spokesperson and First Lady Rosario Murillo said officials discussed investment opportunities with the Iranian delegation in the canal and other commercial areas.
Mr Ortega is running for re-election in November and has named his wife as the future vice president if he wins.
His victory looks likely after courts in recent months ordered opposition lawmakers and a party chief to be replaced with figures hewing to Mr Ortega’s positions. –
Mohammad Javad Zarif wants Iranian companies in the project.